Flu activity across California continues to be widespread, although in some areas, the number of people hospitalized with the virus appears to be declining.
So far, 18 people have died of influenza statewide, seven of those in Los Angeles County.
Those numbers could be higher, health experts said.
"We continue to be in the midst of flu season, which is typical for February," said Dr. James Watt, chief of the Division of Communicable Disease Control for the California Department of Public Health.
But "it appears that flu activity is not increasing as rapidly as it was in January," he added.
Experts still encourage the public to take precautions, such as frequent hand washing and cough etiquette that means coughing and sneezing into your arm instead of your hand, health experts said.
California was one of the last states to experience widespread flu that hit the rest of the nation fast and hard. States across the U.S. began to see flu cases earlier than usual. Boston declared a state of emergency, while Chicago hospitals were turning ambulances away, because emergency departments were inundated with patients suffering from influenza, according to published reports.
"Last year, the influenza season was somewhat later and less intense than this year," Watt said of the virus in California. "This year we are seeing a higher level of influenza activity in early February than last year, both because the season started earlier and there has been a higher level of activity."
He said the H3N2 strain is the predominant strain so far this season. It is the same strain that was predominant last year, Watt said.
"The circulating viruses are a good match with the components of this year's influenza vaccine," he said.
But Watt said it's still too early to say if the Southland has hit its influenza peak.
"We have learned to never try to predict what would happen with influenza," Watt said. "Data from prior years in California often shows that influenza starts to really increase in late December/early January and peak in February or even March.
"Our surveillance data for this year is consistent with that pattern, but it is impossible to say which side of the peak we are on for this season," Watt said.
Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director for Los Angeles County Department of Public Health agreed, adding that while the number of identified influenza cases have declined, RSV or the respiratory syncytial virus continues to be spreading.
"I'm going on a limb here by saying we are approaching the peak, or we have hit the pick," Fielding said of flu cases.
"But the flu doesn't listen to me," Fielding added. "We're still seeing higher numbers of the flu than we have seen in years."