A Much Milder Flu Season This Year Featured font size +

Flu taking toll in California, other states, but having milder impact nationwide, data show

Flu-like illnesses remain elevated in 15 states, plus New York City, according to the report. Almost all of the pediatric illnesses are linked to H1N1. Seven flu deaths have been reported in Nebraska including one pediatric death.

Ontario is probably just getting into the thick of things for the flu, said Dr. Michelle Murti, a public health physician at Public Health Ontario.

The dominant flu strain during the last season, H3N2, has been linked with severe disease and death, particularly among children and the elderly.

Smaller provinces do keep count, although official numbers typically only capture a subset of flu cases. New Brunswick is aware of four such cases, Manitoba has logged five and Alberta has recorded 17.

The CDC has no estimate of deaths so far this season, partly because it's so early. "They don't have the ability and capacity to generate enough oxygen for the rest of the body to survive the infection", Givelichian said.

Normally, he would advise parents of children with run-of-the-mill flu symptoms to treat them at home with rest, fluids and over-the-counter medications to control fever.

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

"If people have not yet had the vaccine, it's not unusual that around this time, after the holidays, we might have a little bit more influenza activity", Murti said. As of December 29, 2018, 13 children had died from influenza this flu season.

If the current strain continues to be the predominant virus, it is what the head of the epidemiology and prevention branch of CDC's flu division expects.

"I think we could be doing a better job to really raise awareness to say kids between six months to five years old are a high-risk group". Anyone with flu complications or symptoms should seek medical treatment with an anti-viral drug, officials said.