The last child to die in Montana due to influenza was more than 2 years ago when only one individual under the age of 18 passed away during the 2018-2019 flu season, according to a press release.

Nationally, there were no pediatric flu deaths during the last week of December 2021, but this week Montana has confirmed the first pediatric and first influenza death of the 2021-2022 season.

According to the RiverStone Health press release, a child with underlying conditions who wasn't vaccinated against influenza, died on December 24, 2021, in Yellowstone County.

In the report, RiverStone Health said there were "more than 300 reported cases" in Yellowstone County, and 53 percent of cases are in those 18 years of age and younger. More than 35 counties in Montana have reported a case of influenza, with 569 confirmed cases total, and 35 hospitalizations.

RiverStone Health provided these precautions to help prevent the spread of influenza:

  • Getting a flu shot.
  • 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.

Influenza spreads through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms 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 a day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.

RiverStone Health said there's still time to get your influenza vaccination, and everyone 6 months and older is recommended to get the vaccine, according to the Center for Disease Control.

While influenza viruses have continued to evolve, to date, this year’s vaccine virus appears to be a good match for the primary influenza strain (H3N2) circulating this year in the US and in Montana.  However, more data is needed before a determination can be made on the effectiveness of the vaccine for this flu season. -RiverStone Health

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