Influenza in Cascade County

The Cascade City-County Health Department (CCHD) reminds residents that influenza, a potentially serious respiratory illness, is still circulating in the community. As of January 5, 2013 there had been 2,247 confirmed and suspect cases for the entire state, with 94 of those occuring in Cascade County. This is probably only a small percentage of the actual flu cases in the community since it only includes those who have sought medical treatment for their illness.

There have been over 150 hospitalizations in the state due to influenza related illness, with approximately 50 of those occurring here in Cascade County; however, our area has actually had a lower number of cases than what is being reported by some of the large counties.

“It is important that we act as proactively as possible to help limit further spread of influenza in our community,” says Trixie Smith, Prevention Services Division Manager for CCHD. “CCHD has convenient walk in hours and plenty of vaccine, so we are encouraging individuals who aren’t immunized to come in and get their flu shot as soon as possible.”

The vaccine efficacy reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) so far during the 2012-2013 influenza season is about 62%, compared to 50-80% during other years. Even if someone who has received their flu shot contracts the flu, it is important to remember that they will generally have a milder case of the illness.

In addition to the flu shot, there are other healthy habits that people should practice to decrease illness. These habits include frequent hand washing, covering your coughs and sneezes, and staying home when ill.

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