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Missoula Health Dept. confirms 6-year-old died of flu

Photo Courtesy: Crystal White Shield

Montana health officials say a Missoula County child is the first person to die of an influenza-related illness in the state this season.

Department of Public Health and Human Services officials said in a statement Monday there aren't many flu cases in Montana right now, but the number is expected to increase in the coming weeks.

There have been five flu-related pediatric deaths across the nation so far.

The aunt of 6-year-old Allison Eaglespeaker, of Missoula, started a GoFundMe page that says the girl died of influenza B and pneumonia on Saturday. The family is raising money to help pay for the kindergartner's medical expenses and funeral on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

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The following was sent out by the Missoula City-County Health Department:

Missoula City-County Health Department, in conjunction with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), has confirmed the state’s first influenza-related death of the 2018-2019 flu season involving a child from Missoula County. Due to privacy concerns, no additional details will be released.

Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that there have been five flu-related pediatric deaths so far this season. In Montana, the last flu-related pediatric death occurred during the 2017-2018 influenza season when one child under the age of 18 died.

Influenza activity is currently at low levels in Montana; however, this is expected to change in the coming weeks. In Montana, influenza activity increases in December and peaks in January and February. To date, there have been 36 cases and six hospitalizations reported in Montana. Last season, over 10,000 cases, 979 hospitalizations, and 79 deaths were reported across Montana.

The disease spreads through coughing and sneezing with symptoms that can include high fever, chills, headaches, exhaustion, sore throat, cough and body aches. It may take about 1 to 4 days after being exposed to the virus for symptoms to develop. Additionally, you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else 1 day before and 5-7 days after becoming sick.

There are many weeks of flu activity left and the CDC continues to recommend getting a flu vaccine to help protect against influenza.

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