Flu season severity uncertain
BOZEMAN, Mont. - The first two flu-related deaths of the season were reported in the Flathead Wednesday afternoon. As the season continues the state could have more flu-related fatalities.
Matt Kelley, health officer with the Gallatin City-County Health Department said there are thousands of flu-related deaths across the country every year.
At this point, Gallatin County has the fourth largest number of flu cases in the state. Butte-Silver Bow County has one of the lowest counts.
Kelley said it is too soon to know what kind of flu season we will have.
"It could go one way or the other. What we do know is we have influenza circulating. We're getting a handful of laboratory confirmed cases every week now. That number will rise," Kelley said.
He reminds people to wash their hands with hot, soapy water often. It is one of the best ways to prevent contracting the flu virus.
Since September, there have been 28 flu associated hospitalizations in Montana. The flu shot is encouraged for anyone ages 6 months or older. It is especially recommended for people 65 years or older and anyone with a weakened immune system.
Flu symptoms include fever, chills, congestion, headache, muscle ache and fatigue.