Flu season poised to be milder than last year's

Here's How Many People Have Caught the Flu So Far This Season (Hint: It's a Lot)

One death was associated with an influenza A (H3) virus, one death was associated with an influenza A (H1N1) pdm09 virus and one death was associated with an influenza A virus for which no subtyping was performed.

Although health officials closely track the flu every year, this is the first time the CDC has provided estimates on the number of flu illnesses in the midst of flu season, the agency said in a statement released today (Jan. 11).

It's hard to gauge how lethal the flu season has been for children across the country because Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia don't track influenza-related deaths in real time.

Death estimates for adults who contracted the flu are not yet available, but as of late December, the CDC said that about 6% of deaths nationwide were due to influenza or pneumonia. New Brunswick is aware of four such cases, Manitoba has logged five and Alberta has recorded 17. A new study, led by the Computational Health Informatics Program (CHIP) at Boston Children's Hospital, combines two forecasting methods with machine learning (artificial intelligence) to estimate local flu activity.

"So in the public healthcare system we treat all regardless of the healthcare definition", he said.

He added that all patients are treated regardless of whether they are suspected swine flu cases or not.

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The burden of the flu is falling heavily on young children this year - an age group that traditionally shows low vaccination rates, Canadian doctors say.

"We can not take the risk any more", he said.

Women with the flu who weren't hospitalized or were hospitalized but not admitted to the intensive care unit didn't have significantly higher risks for any of the complications studied, the researchers said. None of them had been vaccinated, he said.

"We're seeing between 120 to 150 cases per week over the last few weeks", said medical health officer Dr. Karin Goodison.

"Early indicators are that the effectiveness of this year's vaccine is better than last year", Gesell said. "The flu season is here now, and over the next three months it's going to be a very busy season". Experts advise getting the flu shot, but like most years, it seems there are more flu like illnesses than just the flu strains this year's shot is created to work against.

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