Eight more influenza-related deaths were reported by state health officials Friday, underscoring the seriousness of this year's strain to those most vulnerable to it. No influenza-related child deaths have been reported in New Hampshire as of December 30, the most recent data avaialble from the state.
Flu viruses circulate in the Southern Hemisphere before they hit the United States, so the flu season in Australia can predict how bad flu season will be in the U.S. In Collin County, 1,484 out of the 1,733 confirmed cases are type A.
"Flu is everywhere in the US right now", Jernigan said.
While it is showing up a little earlier than other years, Influenza B often produces a milder illness compared to strains of Influenza A, and is covered by this year's flu vaccine.
In California, flu struck surprisingly early and hard this season.
"We think we have likely peaked", Saskatchewan's Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Denise Werker said.
"The difference between the two [types] is that Influenza A - particularly H3N2 - which has been predominating in recent years, tends to affect older people".
"The vaccine for this particular influenza, H3N2, is not particularly effective, it is basically considered of moderate effectiveness, which means 30-40% of cases will be avoided among people who have the vaccine", Dr McCauley said.
Most flu shots cover four flu viruses - two influenza A viruses - H3N2 and H1N1 - and two B viruses. People in these groups should consult a health care provider if they suspect infection with the flu and should begin antiviral medications if recommended by their doctor as soon as possible. The effectiveness of flu shots is not ideal, but for children who get the flu even when vaccinated, the effects are milder. The strain is considered especially risky to young children and older adults over the age of 65. People who are sick should stay home for at least 24 hours after symptoms have resolved to protect others and prevent spreading the disease.
If that happens, Dr. Werker says this flu season could be similar to past year.
People most at risk for severe illness and complications include pregnant women, children younger than 5 and especially those younger than 2, people 65 and older and people with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and weakened immune systems.
"One of the great things about the vaccine is even if you get the flu and you've been vaccinated, it could really reduce your symptoms", said Stoughton.
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