Five Idahoans died from complications related to the flu last week, a startling number, bringing the season total to 13 deaths, the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare reports. “Flu is widespread in Idaho and may be especially severe this season,” said Randi Pedersen, the state influenza surveillance coordinator. “Unfortunately, this flu season is far from over. Influenza activity typically peaks in Idaho in January or early February. If you haven’t yet gotten the vaccine, it is not too late! Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your family from this serious illness.”
Last year, Idaho saw 72 flu-related deaths, far above the typical number. From 2009-10 to 2015-16, the state saw an average of 23 deaths per flu season. Last year, the first death was reported in December; this year, it was in late September.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that infects 5 to 20 percent of the population every year, according to Idaho Health & Welfare. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and sometimes a cough and sore throat. The predominant strain currently circulating in Idaho is influenza A(H3), but influenza A(H1N1) and influenza B also have been detected.
Everyone over six months of age is recommended to get the flu vaccine, unless they have medical reasons to avoid it. There’s more info online here.