First Case of Influenza this Flu Season Confirmed in Montana

The Flathead City-County Health Department, in conjunction with the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), has confirmed the state’s first influenza case of the 2021-2022 flu season involving a child from Flathead County.

This is the first confirmed flu case in Montana since April of 2020.

Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 121 confirmed flu cases as of October 16th, 2021. While state and national influenza activity is currently low, activity tends to peak in December and January.

However, flu season activity is difficult to predict, and there are still many months left of this flu season which can continue through May. While there were no confirmed flu cases in Montana during the 2020-2021 season, the 2019-2020 season saw over 11,000 cases, including 514 hospitalizations, and 41 deaths. The current, low amount of influenza circulation makes this an ideal time to get an annual flu shot.

It’s important to remember that it takes about 2 weeks for an individual’s immune system to develop protection against the flu virus. Getting vaccinated reduces the risk of death, hospitalization, illness severity, and missed days at work or school while helping to protect friends and loved ones.

Each year, the composition of the flu vaccine is matched to the type of influenza viruses that are expected to be in circulation. This season’s flu vaccine is currently available and can be co-administered with the COVID-19 vaccine.

Influenza spreads through coughing and sneezing, however, it’s also possible to spread the flu one day before coming sick, and about 5-7 days afterwards. One of the primary early symptoms to watch for is fever, but additional symptoms include: chills, headaches, exhaustion, sore throat, cough, body aches, and vomiting.

In addition to vaccination, everyday precautions can help stop the spread of flu. Those measures include:

  • If you start running a fever, stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, unless you need medical care or necessities.
  • Covering your sneeze or cough with a tissue.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water. If unavailable, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, can also be used.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, especially while in public places.
  • Avoiding close contact with sick people.

Symptoms of flu, COVID-19, and other respiratory illnesses are similar and the differences between them cannot be made based on symptoms alone. “Your medical provider might recommend testing to confirm a diagnosis and guide additional management,” Cook-Shimanek said.

For more information, visit the DPHHS influenza website

Courtesy of DPHHS

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