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State health department reports 169 influenza cases so far this year

Flu season sign and a thermometer
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Montana’s influenza season is ramping up. Federal health officials say this year’s flu season is hitting the U.S. harder and earlier than in years past.

According to the Montana health department’s latest update, flu activity has increased from October 30th to November 5th with 102 new cases and 2 hospitalizations. So far, season to date includes a total of 169 cases and six hospitalizations that are associated with influenza. No deaths have been reported.

The state’s active monitoring effort started in early October, but some cases were reported as early as the end of September. Most flu cases have been reported in Gallatin, Yellowstone, Ravalli and Butte-Silver Bow Counties.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seasonal influenza activity has increased in recent weeks.

Health experts urge Montanans to get the flu vaccine. They say frequent hand washing, covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, avoiding touching the face with unwashed hands and staying away from work when sick, will also help prevent the spread of illness.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at edward.obrien@umt.edu.