Monday, December 10, 2012

Idaho: Seasonal Flu Update: 3 Deaths

From the Dept. of Health & Welfare:

NEWS RELEASE--FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                           Date: Dec. 3, 2012
Contact:  Niki Forbing-Orr
Public Information Officer
(208) 334-0693

Health officials report first flu-related deaths this year in Idaho

Public health officials are reporting this week that three women have died from influenza-related causes; one from Southeast Idaho and two from Southwest Idaho. All three were over the age of 50 and are the first reported flu-related deaths in Idaho this year.
“Our thoughts are with the families of the people who died from complications of the flu,” said Dr. Kathryn Turner, PhD, Communicable Disease Prevention Bureau Chief at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. “With the holiday season fast approaching, we strongly urge people to be vaccinated for flu so they and their loved ones remain healthy through the season.”
This years’ influenza season has hit earlier than in previous years, making it even more critical to get the vaccine as soon as possible. It is especially important that people at high risk for complications from the flu and anyone in close contact to those people are vaccinated. People at higher risk include infants, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, and people 65 and older.
The flu vaccine protects against three different strains of the flu that public health monitoring has indicated are likely to be circulating, so even if you’ve had the flu, you are still vulnerable to other strains of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months older and older should be vaccinated unless they have a severe allergy to chicken eggs or have had a severe reaction to the flu vaccine in the past. 
“This years’ flu vaccine is a great match to the circulating strains,” Turner said. “However, it takes about two weeks before peak antibody levels are reached and the vaccine’s protection is maximized. Unfortunately, only about a third of adults and 40 percent of children have received the flu vaccine so far this season. We’d really like to see an increase in vaccinations so people have a better chance at staying healthy.”
Most people who get influenza recover after a few days, but it is possible to develop serious complications and die from the virus. One of the most serious flu-related complications is bacterial pneumonia, caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae, another vaccine-preventable respiratory illness. Those over the age of 65 and people with certain chronic illnesses or weakened immune system are at a high risk for this illness and should receive a pneumonia shot at least once. The pneumonia shot can be given at the same time as the flu shot. Talk to your healthcare provider about what shots are right for you.
This week is National Influenza Immunization Week, which is a good time to remember that the influenza virus and other respiratory illnesses usually spread person-to-person through coughing and sneezing. People are urged to:
·      Cover their mouths and noses with a tissue when coughing or sneezing to prevent infecting other people.
·      Avoid people who appear sick.
·      Stay home from work when sick,
·      Wash their hands frequently, especially after being out in the public. Avoid touching their eyes, noses and mouths until they have washed their hands.
·      Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids, eat nutritious foods and take part in physical activity to stay healthy.
For information about influenza and how to stay healthy, please visit For information about bacterial pneumonia, please visit

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