Flu season off to an early - and nasty - start

"They have a less tropical climate, one that's more like ours", Patel said in a news release.

She said getting that yearly flu shot is your best weapon.

"Our flu season started early this year", explained the Pima County Health Department's Deputy Director, Paula Mandel.

The department is also urging people to practice good hygiene, including hand-washing, covering your mouth while coughing, and anything else to stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses during the flu season's height.

'Continued efforts are needed to increase the percentage of the population vaccinated during the next few months in order to reduce the burden of flu, ' the authors of the CDC report said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that past year in the United States alone, 25 million people suffered from influenza-related illnesses, resulting in 11 million flu-associated medical visits.

A nurse administers a flu vaccine shot.

There have already been more than seven thousand confirmed flu cases during the current flu season nationwide, according to the Center for Disease Control.

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Most of the influenza viruses characterized during this time were genetically or antigenically similar to the 2017-2018 Northern Hemisphere cell-grown vaccine references viruses.

Doctors also suspect the flu season could peak later than normal this season - around February or March - meaning the entire flu season could go from now until April or May. And often, by then, more than one-third of those admissions will test positive for the flu.

While Shelton also said it's too soon to tell about the flu season and the vaccine's effectiveness, she did note that there's concern over reports from Australia, which is now at the end of its flu season, about a severe outbreak.

In the United States, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Georgia reported an intense flu activity.

Flu numbers across the metro are seeing a spike, thanks in part to this year's flu vaccine simply not being as effective as in years past.

In 2014, 147 children died of flu - majority from a particular strain, H3N2.

Right now, in North Idaho, flu cases are on the rise. "Therefore, you have much more closeness between people, making them more contagious if they are ill, especially during the holidays". Yet, the problem is that the flu virus can mutate from one flu season to another which can render the vaccine ineffective.

  • Marjorie Miles