Overall, flu activity was down last week compared to previous weeks.
Twenty-four states and Guam were reporting widespread influenza activity - meaning the virus has spread to many parts of the state, regardless of severity - as of December 29, the latest date included in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) weekly flu report. "So, I tell patients it's never too late to get your flu shot".
Influenza-associated intensive care unit admissions, influenza-associated pediatric deaths and influenza outbreaks in long-term care facilities are reported to the county health department's communicable disease staff. Emergency room cases are sent to the county via the Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics.
"So, just because one strain of flu is circulating in the community doesn't mean that another strain of flu won't circulate later in the flu season", Dr. Walshak says.
Flu-like illnesses are trending above the county's historical five-year average. It was last seen during the 2015-16 season.
While last season's vaccine turned out to be a poor match for the circulating strains - especially for the prevailing H3N2 type - the 2018-2019 flu shot is expected to be far more effective in preventing the infectious disease.
A total of 13 children have died so far this flu season. While the CDC recommends that people get vaccinated against the flu by the end of October, getting a flu shot later can still be beneficial.
"While most people will get better themselves from flu, anyone who is concerned about their condition should telephone their GP or an out of hours medical service so they can arrange to be treated in a way that does not put others at risk", he explained. This was mostly among children ages 0-4 years old.
That also goes for healthy adults who are in close contact with people in those groups or with babies under six months of age who are too young to be inoculated against influenza, she said. It also misstated the percentage of children that make up B.C.'s population.