The Montana Department of Health and Human Services said that influenza cases are increasing in the state, and it is urging people who have not yet been vaccinated to take a few minutes to do so.
“Influenza season typically peaks in February and can last as late as May, ” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services Director Anna Whiting Sorrell said in a press release. “We are encouraging people who have not yet been vaccinated to get vaccinated now. ”
No cases of the illness had yet been confirmed in Blaine, Chouteau, Hill or Liberty counties as of the last official report, and Hill County Health Department Director Danielle Golie said many people in this county have come in for vaccinations, but more of the vaccine still is available.
Golie also urged anyone who has not been vaccinated to do so, which health officials say is the best way to avoid the illness.
The county health department is administering the vaccine on Tuesdays, either by appointment or for walk-ins. Area pharmacies, as well as local doctors and clinics, also are offering the vaccine.
Millions of people contract influenza in the nation each year, with hundreds of thousands requiring hospitalization and thousands dying from complications of the disease. Health officials a few years ago began recommending that everyone 6 months and older receive a vaccination. The vaccine is available through a shot or with a nasal inhaler that can be used by people who have no health problems and are not pregnant, ages 6 months to 49 years.
The best ways to avoid contracting the flu are to receive a vaccination and to use common sense in avoiding contracting the virus, such as frequently washing hands.
People who come down with the illness generally are urged to stay home, rest and drink plenty of liquids. They are asked to avoid going out, as this could spread the virus to others.
In case of complications, people need to quickly contact a doctor to receive proper care.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the common symptoms of the flu as:
• Fever, feeling feverish or having chills, although not everyone who has the flu will have a fever;
• Sore throat;
• Runny or stuffy nose;
• Muscle or body aches;
• Fatigue or tiredness; and
• Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children.
CDC lists signs of complications in children:
• Fast breathing or trouble breathing;
• Bluish skin color;
• Not drinking enough fluids;
• Not waking up or not interacting;
• Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held;
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough;
• Fever with a rash.
In addition to the signs above, people should get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:
• Being unable to eat;
• Having trouble breathing;
• Having no tears when crying;
• Having significantly fewer wet diapers than normal.