B/Victoria Is The Virus Mostly To Blame This Flu Season — And It's Showing Up Early

A woman receives the seasonal influenza vaccine (flu shot). (Credit: NIAID)

Flu season is getting an early start in California this year, and health officials say there's one particular strain of influenza that's mostly to blame.

"Right now we're seeing a predominance of influenza B/Victoria viruses, which is a bit unusual for this time of year," said Dr. Erin Murray, an epidemiologist with the California Department of Public Health.

B/Victoria is the main culprit nationally, too, according to the CDC.

Not all flu strains are the same. B strains, for example, are more likely to affect children.

Influenza B shows up a little differently in kids, according to Dr. James Cherry, a professor of pediatrics at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine.

"It doesn't come on as fast with fever and chills," Cherry said. "But we were surprised in the study we did how long it lasted."

Fortunately, B/Victoria is included in this year's flu shot. Cherry says more people need to get vaccinated, especially children over the age of 6 months.

"The earlier the flu comes, the likelihood the season will be worse, with more deaths," Cherry said. But, he added, it's still too early to predict how severe this flu season might be.

State health officials point out that early symptoms of the mysterious lung illness associated with vaping can be similar to the flu. So if you think you have the flu, be sure to tell your doctor if you vape, too.