Experts: California due for outbreak of influenza

Health experts in California are predicting that the state is due for an outbreak of influenza because it is surrounded by the virus on all sides.

While only a smattering of flu cases are reported so far this season, it is likely that the virus will enter into the state in the form of an outbreak before long. Flu season usually peaks in the United States in February and March, but experts estimate that the flu will peak earlier this year on the West Coast, the Merced Sun-Star reports.

"Our time is coming," Randy Bergen, the clinical lead for the vaccine program at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, said, according to the Merced Sun-Star . "I kind of expect that January is going to be a month with a lot of respiratory illnesses."

Bergen said that once children are back in school after the holidays, it is likely they will share more germs.

Public health officials in Merced said that getting a vaccination is the best possible way to avoid catching the flu. Bergen said it is not too late to get the flu shot, though that time is running out. It takes approximately two weeks to build up immunity after receiving the vaccine.

Health officials recommend that to avoid getting sick from the flu, residents should wash their hands often, wash shared keyboards and telephones daily, use tissues, cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing, get flu shots, stay home to protect others when ill, and wait 24 hours after a fever abates before returning to school or work, the Merced Sun-Star reports.