It’s official: flu season is getting a late start this year. Although plenty of people have already suffered through flu symptoms, many have described this winter as a “mild flu season”. Unfortunately, the flu season really starts in the new year—February or March, and this year it’s just been a little late—so don’t let your guard down yet!

According to the CDC, official signs of the flu season (not flu symptoms, but tests regarding how prevalent the flu virus is in people’s lungs—1 in 10 people carry it, by the way), are finally high enough to declare an official start to flu season—and this is the latest start in 30 years.

There’s still time to get a flu shot, if you want, but this year has also been notable for flu mutations. Flu shots generally lag 1-2 years behind, and make a very well-educated gamble on which strains will cause flu symptoms in the next year. They can’t account for mutations.

Mutations like the new swine flu, which started in Iowa. Mostly it’s affected children, and has been comparatively mild for swine flu, but that’s actually cause for concern. They can’t identify where the swine flu symptoms began, since the first case reported didn’t actually have contact with pigs. That means that there might be far more people carrying the virus than who have flu symptoms, and scientists are trying to prepare for a mutation of the virus that might cause more severe flu symptoms.

Make sure that you’re proactive against flu symptoms: run a humidifier to decrease transmission, keep washing hands regularly, and take to bed at the first sign you’re sick.

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