There have been 10 flu-related deaths in Idaho so far this season, all people over 50, according to Idaho Department of Health & Welfare.
The Centers for Disease Control, which monitors flu across the country, says the flu is widespread in Idaho. That means outbreaks or increases in flu-like illnesses, along with lab-confirmed influenza, has been found in at least half of the regions of the state, according to a weekly report on the flu distributed by the CDC.
There have been multiple influenza outbreaks in residential settings that include nursing homes and long-term care facilities, the report shows.
A spokesman for Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise said there’s been a marked increase in flu cases this January, when compared to last year.
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“We saw more than a 300% increase in the number of flu cases, compared to the first half of January 2016 in our clinics,” Josh Schlaich said.
Schlaich said it’s not too late to get vaccinated, if you didn’t do that. Other ways to prevent getting the flu include: good hand hygiene and disinfecting surfaces that may be contaminated with germs.
Other nearby states are worse off. The flu hit “epidemic” levels in Washington state in early January, according to the Tacoma News-Tribune. Washington has had 76 flu deaths so far this season, with all but four of the deaths occurring in people over 50, according to the Associated Press. One flu victim was a child under 10.
The reports of influenza-like illnesses in Idaho this season are slightly above last year at this time — and way below the two years prior. In 2013-14 and 2014-15, flu in Idaho peaked in late December and early January, whereas last year it peaked later in the winter.
“So far, it seems like a pretty typical year for flu,” said Niki Forbing-Orr, a spokeswoman for Idaho Department of Health & Welfare.
There are several flu viruses circulating. The most common influenza virus by far found in Idaho residents this season is A(H3), according to laboratory results.
The first flu death in Idaho this season was in late December. Last year, 26 people died from influenza.
The CDC has a detailed “frequently asked questions” section about this year’s flu season on its Web site. Read that here.