With 13 deaths, Idaho officials say this flu season is the worst they’ve seen in 7 years

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has received five new reports in one week of Idahoans who died from an influenza-related illness, bringing the season total to 13 deaths.

Idaho health officials have seen more influenza-related deaths at this point in the season than in the same time frame in the previous seven seasons, according to a news release from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Everyone over six months of age is recommended to get the flu vaccine, unless they have medical reasons to avoid it. Health officials said in the release that it is not too late to get the flu vaccination.

The predominant strain circulating in Idaho is influenza A(H3), but influenza A(H1N1) and influenza B also have been detected.

Last flu season, 72 people were reported to have died from flu-related illnesses in Idaho, which far exceeded the annual average of 23 deaths during each season from 2009-10 through 2015-16. The first reported influenza-related death last season occurred in December.

Besides getting the flu vaccine, everyday actions to stop the spread of influenza include:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing to prevent infecting other people. Avoid people who appear to be sick.
  • Stay home from work or school when you’re sick so you don’t infect others.
  • 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.

Every year, influenza contributes to an estimated 36,000 deaths in the United States, along with more than 200,000 hospitalizations.

For information about influenza, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu or http://flu.idaho.gov.