Idaho flu-related deaths jump to 13 | Public health officials 'concerned'

Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force / MGN
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BOISE, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Idaho sees more influenza-related deaths at this time in the season compared to the same time frame as the previous seven seasons.

In one week, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare received five new reports of Idahoans who died from flu-related illness. The department said public health officials are concerned. This brings the total to 13 deaths, according to a news release.

“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. If you haven’t yet gotten the vaccine, it is not too late! Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your family from this serious illness.”

The DHW recommends everyone older than 6 months receive a flu vaccine, barring medical reasons to avoid getting one.

The department said 72 people in Idaho died last year from flu-related illnesses. From 2009-2010 through 2015-2016, Idaho averaged 23 flu-related deaths per year.

The department said each year, the contagious respiratory illness infects 5 to 20 percent of the population. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and sometimes a cough and sore throat. According to the news release, the predominant strain currently circulating in Idaho is influenza A(H3), but influenza A(H1N1) and influenza B also have been detected.

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

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