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Health officials notice different flu activity this year

(Utah Department of Health Building)

WASATCH FRONT – Health officials are describing the flu activity this season as “weird” and we’ve already seen more pediatric deaths than normal.

The Utah Department of Health considers the months of October to May as “flu season”.  Normally, flu activity peaks in December, but, this season, it peaked in February.

Keegan McCaffrey with the Utah Department of Health says, “We on average see two [pediatric deaths per season] and this year we’re at four.  But, this also isn’t the highest that we’ve seen.”

The record was set in 2013, when there were five.  McCaffrey would not divulge the ages or the locations of the children who died this year.

Also, McCaffrey says the viruses aren’t behaving like they normally do.  Usually, they see a strain of Influenza A followed by a strain of Influenza B.

“This season is different in that we saw, first, a wave of the Influenza A H1N1 virus.  Now we’re seeing a wave of Influenza A H3N2,” he says.

Even though it’s late in the season, McCaffrey says they’re still seeing a lot of flu activity.

“We’re going to be keeping a close eye on this because it is strange that we’re having two different Influenza A viruses,” McCaffrey says, adding, “This Influenza A H3N2 is associated with more severe illness, especially in elderly people and people with chronic conditions.”