Public Health Officials Report Early Start to Flu Season

By Beacon Staff

Local and state public health officials are reporting an early emergence of influenza and are predicting this to be a particularly bad flu season.

There are currently two cases of suspected influenza awaiting secondary confirmation in Flathead County, according to the Flathead City-County Health Department.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and local agencies are encouraging residents to take preventative measures, including getting vaccinated.

The flu vaccine available this year is a close match to the strain that is already circulating through the country, according to the CDC.

Each year, millions of people are infected with influenza, more than 200,000 are hospitalized and thousands die from complications, according to the CDC.

“It’s not too late to get your flu shot. Every one 6 months of age and older should get vaccinated against influenza. Even healthy children and adults can get very sick from the flu,” Community Health Director Jody White said in a statement.

Influenza season typically peaks in February and can last through May.

The influenza vaccine is available in two forms: a shot and a nasal spray. The nasal spray is for use in healthy people ages 2 to 49 years who are not pregnant.

Other preventative measures recommended by the CDC include: covering a cough; washing hands frequently; and staying home when ill.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, and, especially in children, stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. People usually become ill one to three days after being infected. Most adults are infectious one day before they show any symptoms, according to the CDC.

Flu shots are available at the Flathead City-County Health Department on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information contact Community Health Services at 751-8110, or visit online.

For more information about influenza or the influenza vaccine, talk to your doctor or nurse, or visit the CDC’s website or call 1-800-CDC-INFO.

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