SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – The 2011-2012 flu season is off to a slow start, but federal health experts said Friday that more activity is expected in the coming weeks.

“We have heard reports from state health departments that help us track information that they’re seeing more positive specimens. We expect to see some increase in activity shortly,” said Michael Jhung, a physician with the Influenza Division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 15 of the last 30 years, flu activity started to increase in January, peaked in February or March and continued into May, according to the CDC website.

Warmer temperatures so far this winter may have been a factor in the flu season’s slow start.

“A milder winter might lead to people doing more activities outside, staying indoors less, being around sick people less. It may have something to do with that,” said Jhung.

The low flu activity may also be a sign that people are getting vaccinated.

Experts say if you haven’t had your shot yet, get it now. Pulmonary specialist Dr. Len Horovitz said, “It’s never too late to get vaccinated.” Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself from the flu.

This is especially worth keeping in mind in view of the three flu-related deaths that have already occurred in California this season.

Last week, the California Department of Public Health received the first report of a pediatric influenza-associated death. The child was from Southern California and in the 10-14 age group. In addition, two adults aged 30-49, each with chronic medical conditions, have also died in the state.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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