The Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services (DPHHS) reports the state has confirmed its first case of influenza for the 2021-2022 flu season. It is also the first flu case confirmed in Montana since April of 2020.
DPHHS said in a news release it confirmed the case in a child from Flathead County, in conjunction with the Flathead City-County Health Department.
There have been 121 confirmed flu cases nationwide as of October 16, 2021, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
DPHHS said although current flu activity is low, the season can continue through May, with activity tending to peak in December and January.
Despite no confirmed cases in Montana during the 2020-2021 flu season, the 2019-2020 season had more than 11,000 cases, 514 hospitalizations, and 41 deaths, according to DPHHS.
Health officials urge the public to get a flu shot to protect against infection this season.
“The influenza vaccine is the best way to protect yourself against the flu,” says Dr. Maggie Cook-Shimanek, the acting State Medical Officer for DPHHS. “One dose is effective for the full flu season, even if you get vaccinated early.”
DPHHS said it takes approximately two weeks after vaccination for a person’s immune system to develop protection against the flu virus, but getting the vaccine reduces the risk of death, hospitalization, illness severity, and missed days at work or school. The flu vaccine can be given at the same time as the COVID vaccine.
Influenza, COVID, and other respiratory illnesses have similar symptoms, and testing may be required to confirm a diagnosis.
“Your medical provider might recommend testing to confirm a diagnosis and guide additional management,” Cook-Shimanek said.
More information is available at the DPHHS influenza website.