As Doctor Charles Chiu studies the flu virus at UCSF this season - he isn't liking what he sees.
"There are two new strains which are targeted by this year's vaccines which appear in southern hemisphere to cause severe cases of influenza," said UCSF Assistant Professor Charles Chiu, MD.
Dr. Chiu says the science of studying infectious diseases involves the art of predicting. They aren't 100 percent certain about what the flu will bring. But from what they can tell - this year's flu virus could make you sicker than in year's past. Dr. Chiu has another concern this year - he's worried that last year's flu could impact how we behave this year.
"Last year was mild and may give people a sense of complacency that potentially they may not need to get vaccinated and that this year may also be mild. I want to stress - we don't know beforehand whether a particular is going to be worse or better," said Dr. Chiu.
The vaccine is one of the best defenses against the flu - and he strongly recommends getting it. It's the same vaccine whether it's in the drug store or the doctor's office - and its tailor-made to fight what they think we will be dealing with this year. And it doesn't just protect you.
"There also is some benefit from a community perspective of getting a vaccine because then by protecting yourself you also help to protect others around you from getting infected with influenza," said Dr. Chiu.
Dr. Chiu said last year's flu virus was possibly the mildest in a decade. He said the public can take some of the credit for that by taking precautions like washing hands and getting vaccinated. The hope is to keep that trend going this year.