El Paso (TX) Reports First 2019 Flu Death

Officials at the city's Department of Public Health continue to encourage all residents to receive the flu vaccine and do whatever they can to stop the spread of the virus.

The City of El Paso (Texas) Department of Public Health confirmed Jan. 7 that the area has seen a significant amount of flu activity in the region and that one man has been confirmed as a the first flu-related death this season. As of the end of 2018, there were 666 confirmed flu cases recorded for this flu season, compared to 434 cases reported during the same time during the 2017 flu season.

The first flu-related death involved a man in his 80s who had underlying medical conditions and who had not been vaccinated against the disease.

Department officials continue to encourage all residents to receive the flu vaccine and do whatever they can to stop the spread of the virus. "We are seeing a significant amount of flu cases being reported in patients who are between one and 18 years of age," said Fernando Gonzalez, the department's Lead Epidemiologist. "We must insist that our younger population and parents of our children be vigilant and remind them that the first line of defense is a flu shot."

In addition to the flu vaccine, public health officials remind the public to practice the four Cs in order to help reduce the incidence of infection:

  • CLEAN - Wash your hands often. Scrub your hands for at least 30 seconds with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
  • COVER – Cover your cough. Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a tissue, the crook of your elbow will do.
  • CONTAIN – Contain germs by steering clear of others who are sick. If you do get sick, stay home until you're well again so you don't spread more germs.
  • CALL – Call or see your doctor if you or your child has a fever greater than 100 degrees.

The department's release said there were 21 flu-related deaths during last year's flu season.

CDC's latest FluView weekly flu surveillance report covered the week ending Dec. 29, 2018. It shows flu activity across the United States is increasing. The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) increased to 4.1 percent, which is above the national baseline of 2.2 percent, and all 10 regions reported ILI at or above their region-specific baseline level. New York City and 19 states experienced high ILI activity; nine states experienced moderate ILI activity; the District of Columbia and 10 states experienced low ILI activity; and Puerto Rico and 12 states experienced minimal ILI activity.

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