Flathead County with Average Flu Season at 103 Cases

Health officials say it’s not too late to get vaccine; most pediatric cases have involved children who didn’t receive vaccine

By Maggie Dresser
The Flathead City-County Health Department. Beacon File Photo

As the flu season continues through 2020, both the state and county are seeing typical influenza activity with 103 cases reported in Flathead County as of Jan. 11.

Lisa Dennison, infectious disease coordinator for the Flathead City-County Health Department, says this influenza season has seen an average number so far but stresses the unpredictability of the virus.

“I would say that for the most part of Montana, the data reflects what we most expect this time of year,” Dennison said.

Dennison says Flathead County has seen eight influenza hospitalizations, which were all individuals over age 60.

Statewide, there have been 1,646 cases reported as of Jan. 11. Gallatin County leads with 429 cases so far this year, according to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).

Nationwide, there were 75,552 cases reported as of Jan. 11, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Influenza B has influenced Flathead County more than Influenza A, which reflects the state and national trend, with the B strain accounting for 62 percent in the state and 67 percent nationally, according to the DPHHS.

“With more influence of the B strain, that’s the tendency to have worse cases in children,” Dennison said.

Of the 17 pediatric cases, which account for ages 18 and under, 12 were positive for Influenza B in Flathead County, Dennison said. She also noted that 92 percent of those cases did not receive a flu vaccine.

Statewide, Influenza B has accounted for one-third of influenza hospitalizations reported for all ages and more than two-thirds for the pediatric population. Eighty-eight percent had not received an influenza vaccine, according to state data.

Dennison reminds individuals with the flu to stay home to avoid transferring the disease to others and to contact a health care provider if they have a compromised immune system or are at risk of developing complications due to influenza. If your child has a fever over 104 degrees, bring the child in for medical care right away.

“It’s not too late to get a vaccine,” Dennison said.

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