December 3, 2018

Contact:  Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936
                Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391

Montana health officials confirm first influenza death this season

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.

In addition, everyday precautions can help stop the spread of flu. Those measures include:

  • Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoiding close contact with sick people.
  • Staying home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or necessities. 

For more information, visit the DPHHS influenza website