Published: Thu, January 10, 2019
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Flu season surging and likely not at peak in Canada, doctors say

Flu season surging and likely not at peak in Canada, doctors say

Most cases occurred in people under age 65. "This is a tragic reminder that the flu can still kill and that children are particularly susceptible to the illness".

An estimated 80,000 people died during the 2017-2018 flu season, according to the CDC. However, health officials say the flu shot works better against that strain.

As of December 29, the most recent data available from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows there were 13,796 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases across the country, with the provinces and territories reporting 1,046 hospitalizations and 24 deaths.

With the start of the new year, flu season has been picking up across the country.

But after the Southern Hemisphere experienced a much milder flu season about six months ago, health experts are hopeful this year won't be as bad. (Lab-confirmed cases represent a small percentage of all flu cases, often just the ones that require hospitalization).

The timing of seasonal flu outbreaks vary and can begin as early as late October.

The 2017/2018 influenza season was considered one of high severity by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with high rates of emergency department visits and widespread flu activity over an extended period. "People with symptoms should stay at home and children should not attend school if showing signs of flu".

"At the end of 2018, flu activity was high in New York City and 19 states, including most of the American southwest and New Jersey". These tests are rapid, like the name suggests but depending on the actual strain of the virus going around they can have varying success in properly identifying the flu.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against the flu virus, so the earlier the shot is administered, the better. A previous version misstated the age of children affected by the flu in a quote from Dr. Danuta Skowronski.

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