Montana’s first influenza case confirmed in over a year

The flu is nasty. It’s something we all take for granted because of something else. What was that? Oh yes. COVID. Additionally, there has been no confirmed case of the flu in Montana for over a year. Well, it’s back.

The Flathead City-County Department of Health has informed our State Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) that a Flathead County child is the first person with a confirmed case of the flu since April 2020, a year and a half ago.

This could be the start of a long flu season, which authorities say could last until May 2022. So get your flu shot. In fact, you can get your flu shot at the same time you get a COVID-19 booster. You just have two plasters on your arm after your visit.

A booster for DPHHS – it takes about two weeks for the immune system to develop protection after your injection. The 2019-2020 season saw over 11,000 infections and over 500 went to hospital. Now, with hospitals crowded with COVID, you don’t want to risk needing help from the flu.

The flu causes coughing and sneezing, but at first you experience chills, headaches, exhaustion, sore throat, cough, body aches, and even vomiting. Not fun at all.

Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer at DPHHS, took the usual precautions:

  • Have a fever – stay home. In fact, stay home for 24 hours after the fever has dropped. You can still spread the flu virus.
  • Cover your sneeze or cough with a tissue.
  • Wash your hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, especially in public places.
  • Stay away from sick people. It’s self-explanatory.
  • You may have noticed that some of these precautions are similar to COVID restrictions. The symptoms are similar. If you are not sure, your health care provider can tell the difference between the flu and any other respiratory illness. There is a separate flu website at the DPHHS.

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