Season’s First Flu Case Confirmed in Cascade County

The City-County Health Department has received confirmation of Cascade County’s first influenza case of the season from the Montana Public Health Laboratory.

Influenza, or the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness with symptoms that may include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. It is important that people realize that seasonal influenza is not the same as the stomach or intestinal illness that can occur year-round and causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. People sometimes mistakenly refer to that illness as the “stomach flu,” but it is not caused by the influenza virus. Influenza can be a serious respiratory illness that lasts for a week to two weeks and can cause serious complications, even death. Gastrointestinal illness or “stomach flu” usually only lasts 24-48 hours, and healthy adults generaly recover without complications.

The flu virus is contagious and spreads from person to person through droplets when sneezing or coughing. It can also be spread when a person touches an object that has the virus on it and then touches their mouth, nose or eyes. Most people who get the flu recover within a week to two weeks, although complications such as bacterial pneumonia, dehydration and worsening of chronic health conditions can arise. These complications can result in hospitalization and, in severe cases, death. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in the United States “flu-associated deaths range from a low of about 3,000 people to a high of about 49,000 people each year.”

CCHD wants people to remember that there are ways to help keep themselves and their families healthy this flu season. “A flu shot is still the best protection against the flu, and it isn’t too late,” states Jill Boettcher, CCHD Public Health Nurse, “and, of course, continue to practice good prevention habits-wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze and stay home when you are sick.”

Flu shots are available at the City-County Health Department every Tuesday from 8:00-11:30am and Wednesday through Friday from 8:30-11:30am and 1:00-4:30pm. No appointment is necessary. Shots costs $14 for children and $25 for adults. Medicare, Medicaid and Healthy Montana Kids are accepted along with cash, checks, credit cards and other insurances.

For more information on flu shots and other immunizations offered at CCHD, click here.