Idaho is seeing more influenza-related deaths at this point in the season than in the same timeframe in the previous seven seasons, and public health officials are concerned.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has received five new reports in one week of Idahoans who died from an influenza-related illness, bringing the season total to 13 deaths.
“Flu is widespread in Idaho and may be especially severe this season,” said Randi Pedersen, the state influenza surveillance coordinator. “Unfortunately, this flu season is far from over. Influenza activity typically peaks in Idaho in January or early February.”
Everyone over six months of age is recommended to get the flu vaccine, unless you have medical reasons to avoid it the department said.
“If you haven’t yet gotten the vaccine, it is not too late,” said Pedersen. “Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your family from this serious illness.”
Last flu season, 72 people were reported to have died from flu-related illnesses in Idaho, which far exceeded the annual average of 23 deaths during each season from 2009-2010 through 2015-2016. The first reported influenza-related death last season occurred in December.
Besides getting the flu vaccine, everyday actions to stop the spread of influenza include:
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing to prevent infecting other people. Avoid people who appear to be sick. Stay home from work or school when you’re sick so you don’t infect others. Wash your hands frequently, especially after being out in the public. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth until you have washed your hands. Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids, eat nutritious foods and take part in physical activity to stay healthy.
Most people who get influenza recover after a few days, but some people may develop serious complications.
Every year, influenza contributes to an estimated 36,000 deaths in the United States, along with more than 200,000 hospitalizations.