Don’t let the warmer temperatures fool you – flu is still circulating widely in Idaho. The number of flu-related deaths has seen a bump in the past several weeks, and public health officials are advising Idahoans to take precautions to avoid getting sick.
“It’s a very late season compared to previous seasons,” said DHW’s State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn. “People are still at risk for serious complications related to the flu. This season’s vaccine is a good match for the circulating strains. If you haven’t gotten it yet, it would be a good idea to do so.”
So far this season, the state has had reports of 16 flu-related deaths, many of which didn’t happen until the last couple of months. The number of deaths typically lags behind the season, so it’s possible there will be more. The state reported 32 flu-related deaths during the 2014-2015 flu season.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that infects 5 to 20 percent of the population every year. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and sometimes a cough and sore throat. Most people who get influenza recover after a few days, but some people may develop serious complications and even die. Every year, the flu contributes to an estimated 30,000 deaths in the United States, along with more than 200,000 hospitalizations.
In addition to getting vaccinated, people can protect themselves from the influenza virus and other respiratory illnesses by practicing good health hygiene habits. To avoid infection:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing so you don’t infect other people.
- Avoid people who are sick.
- Stay home from work or school when sick.
- 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.