U.S. flu season arrives early, driven by an unexpected virus

Woman sneezing with facial tissues

Spokane sees high rates of an unusual flu strain this year

The last influenza report issued by the department in mid-November showed elevated activity of flu in every county around the state except for Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Imperial counties.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday said the second phase of government-funded flu vaccinations is to begin today for people 65 years or older and preschool children.

Dr. Jennifer Vines with the Multnomah County Health Office says it can be hard to predict the flu year to year.

Flu activity in California is already widespread and has reached levels not normally seen until later in the season, state health officials said Friday. "The flu is preventable, but a vaccination is needed every year to maintain the greatest protection", said Dr. Angell.

According to CDC disease monitoring statistics, there were 74,157 hospital visits for flu-like symptoms from November 24 to Saturday last week, which was 2.6 percent higher than the week before, and has not reached the epidemic threshold.

A press release stated that since the flu season began on September 9, 2019, 16 influenza-coded deaths have been identified on death certificates, with two of those deaths being minors.

In all, 3.5 percent of all visits to healthcare providers across the country that week were related to influenza, up from 2.9 percent the previous week. "The more time we have for flu to circulate, the more likely we are going to have a heavier season".

Influenza A viruses are also in circulation with the dominant flu virus varying by region and age of patient, according to the CDC.

Additionally, 13 jurisdictions across the country are now reporting high flu activity, up from eight in the prior week.

According to the state DPH, Outer Metro Boston is reporting moderate influenza-like illness activity while all other regions in the state are reporting minimal to low ILI activity.

Flu vaccines were less effective during the last two seasons against the predominate virus.

The team developed a test vaccine that targets a certain protein common to all flu viruses.

This year's flu vaccines have been updated in terms of their H1N1 and H3N2 components. That is why it crucial to get your flu shot especially if you are in a high-risk group.

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