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

10 January 2019

Children less than two years old and adults older than 65. "This is a tragic reminder that the flu can still kill and that children are particularly susceptible to the illness".

The death follows last year's severe flu season, during which an estimated 80,000 people were lost to the viral infection, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield said in September.

The best protection against the flu is the flu shot, but is it too late to get vaccinated? Eighty-five per cent of children admitted to intensive care because of the flu are under the age of 10, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Experts say peak flu season is near, but there are hopes this year won't be as bad as last year.

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Last season at that point, 11,275 cases of lab-confirmed flu had been reported.

"We're really just now getting into our flu season", said Dr. Michelle Murti of Public Health Ontario, noting that the proportion of tests on people with respiratory bugs that came back positive for influenza had doubled to 16 per cent in the week ending December 29, compared to eight per cent the week before.

People with symptoms should stay at home and children should not attend school if showing signs of flu, he said.

"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". Vaccines protect against multiple flu strains. H3N2, the strain largely responsible for last year's outbreak, has so far been less common than the H1N1 strain.

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The CDC recommends that everyone 6-months-old and older get a flu shot every year.

"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".

Note to readers: This is a corrected story.

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