The bug is especially bad in California, where 27 deaths have been linked to the flu. There were 2,992 flu cases reported last week, which marks a decrease of 362 cases since the previous week. Still, though the season clearly got off to a rough start, it's too soon to say whether it'll go on record as particularly terrible, public health experts said.
In its weekly FluWatch report, the Public Health Agency of Canada says there were 11,277 laboratory-confirmed cases of flu across the country as of December 30 - about 70 per cent attributed to H3N2 - with more than 1,000 influenza-related hospitalizations and 34 deaths.
It is not so much that it is worse than a year ago, but officials say it is much earlier. Public health officials saw an uptick in cases in early November, about a month ahead of schedule. About 13 percent were an H1N1 strain, and about 28 percent were a B strain, with both of those normally less lethal than H3N2.
The hospital said they have stocked up on the flu vaccine, which the Illinois Department of Public Health said is still the best way to deal with the threat of the flu, even into the second week of January. Patients typically present with severe body aches and high fever.
Pharmacies have also sold out of the medication prescribed by doctors to treat the flu due to increased demand. 'I spent my Sunday night looking for Tamiflu for wholesale'. "That's a lot more than usual, '" he said. "We have the situation under control".
Although flu-related deaths spiked, the number of lab-confirmed flu cases dropped last week, according to a county health report. Northern Hospital has treated mostly older adults, ages 65 and over, for the flu.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, flu activity has jumped across the country, with 36 states now reporting widespread flu activity. "That strain of flu tends to change more rapidly than other strains from the time that we know what's circulating to the time the vaccine is made", said Dr. Sharon Welbel of Stroger Hospital. There have been 34 reported deaths. Eighteen people have died.
Iowa also was bumped up to "moderate" flu activity, up from "minimal" the week before.
The colder weather forces more people indoors, thus in contact with others in close spaces, increasing your chances of getting the flu.
Influenza B accounted for 34 per cent of cases in the last week of 2017 and, as of December 30, about one-quarter of cases in the season.
However, Murti said those figures are an underestimate of the actual number of cases, as most people don't seek medical attention for flu and, therefore, aren't tested.
'Usually during flu season we sell maybe one a day, ' he said.
About 50-percent of those flu patients did get a flu shot.
Because elderly people are so vulnerable to the flu, some nursing homes and assisted living facilities may limit visitors and resident activities, depending on the level of illness. But even for those who become infected, getting the shot may make their symptoms less severe and protect them from complications that lead to hospitalization or death.
"People can get it any time they need to get it", Chávez said. In comparison, there were a total of eight influenza deaths in the county last season, said county health officials.