Idaho’s first influenza-related death of the 2018-2019 flu season occurred this week in a northern Idaho woman over the age of 50, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
“(We’re) reminding residents that flu can be serious” said Randi Pedersen, the Idaho Influenza Surveillance Coordinator. “The most important action to take to prevent serious illness is to get a flu vaccine now.”
Last year’s flu season was particularly deadly, resulting in a record 101 influenza-related deaths in Idaho, officials said. That number was quadruple the average of 25 deaths each season over the last decade.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that infects anywhere from 5 to 20 percent of the population every year, health field experts say. Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, or fatigue. Most people who get influenza recover after a few days, but some people may develop serious complications.
Everyone over six months of age is recommended to get the flu vaccine; it’s especially important for people with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, young children, and people older than 65. These people should get vaccinated because they are at higher risk of having serious flu-related complications.
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three or four influenza viruses this year. There are several different types of flu vaccine available. Speak to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to determine which is best for you.
Pedersen advises people to take these additional precautions to limit the spread of influenza:
•Wash your hands frequently. 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.
•Avoid people who appear sick.
•Stay home from work or school when sick.
•Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.