This year’s flu season has been unusually mild, with nearly all states reporting only sporadic flu activity – or none at all – according to the latest reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But don’t let your guard down, experts warn. Flu seasons typically peak in the first two months of the year and can produce widespread outbreaks as late as May.
It’s still important to take precautions to lower your risks – wash your hands frequently, avoid being around people with the flu and get a vaccine, federal health officials advise.
CDC reports fewer than 4 percent of patient samples sent for laboratory analysis have come back positive for influenza so far this year – eight times fewer cases than by this time last year.
No states have reported widespread flu activity. Colorado is the only state that has seen even regional flu activity. All others have seen only occasional cases, if any.
One reason flu activity has been sporadic this year, experts say: More people (particularly children) were vaccinated this year. CDC estimates about 37 percent of kids had been vaccinated by November, up from about 31 percent in 2010. CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age.
But CDC officials note the peak of flu cases may lie ahead.
“The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season,” CDC said, in a summary of flu activity on the agency’s website. “Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. in January or February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.”