Health department announces five new flu-related deaths, 2 in Magic Valley

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare announced Friday morning five new flu-related deaths from Jan. 21-27.

Logan Hudson, a nurse manager with South Central Public Health District, said two of the deaths were in the eight counties the health district serves.

"We get that information from the state usually a week or two after it's reported," Hudson said.

He said after the deaths occur, the coroner will then list the cause of the death on the certificate. After these five were announced, it brings the death rate up to 51 in Idaho. In south-central Idaho, five people over the age of 50 have died of flu-related illness this season.

"Compared to last year, there were 72 deaths throughout the whole flu season. In terms of deaths, we're about where we were last year," he said.

Hudson says flu season usually ends in the spring, around March or April. However, this year it started a little earlier.

"Hopefully it will end a little earlier. We don't know that though," he said. "We have seen a decrease in cases the last couple of weeks... If that continues to trend, we'll be able to say that the peak is over and we're on the downhill side."

However, he still wants people to stay aware through February and March.

"Wash you hands, cover your coughs, stay at home when you're sick, and it's never too late to get your flu vaccine," he urged.

Hudson said they've seen more hospitalization for influenza than they normally do.

"The numbers for that are difficult. We have certain numbers for that in the state that provide numbers, but not every hospital provides numbers... It's a sample of what we think's going on, so we don't have concrete numbers of how many ER visits are for influenza-related illnesses," he said.

For more information on the past week's flu statistics, click here.

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