Like much of the nation, Idaho is dealing with a serious and deadly flu season. Areas across the state are getting hit hard with the virus, especially the northern panhandle.
As the illness continues to spread, several schools and districts across the state have chosen to close while students convalesce. An elementary school in north Idaho called off classes as did schools in the Cascade District. Students in Riggins go back to class February 5th after 30 percent of students district-wide were out sick Monday.
Randi Pederson, the state influenza coordinator, says five people died this week due to flu. That brings the season total to 51 fatalities.
“So to look at our number this season in comparison to last season, we’re reporting 51 deaths total – right now,” she says. “Last year at this time we had 31 deaths total. So, we’re concerned that we’re having these large number of deaths and concerned about that trend.”
According to Pederson, the vast majority of those dying from influenza and flu-related illnesses are in the Idaho panhandle and over the age of 50. She says health officials aren’t sure why the virus is so intense in the region.
With flu season stretching from October to May, Pederson wants to be sure the public realizes they can still take action to guard against it.
“The best protection is to get a flu shot,” Pederson says. “And it’s really still not too late to get your flu shot and to give yourself some protection.”
If you do get the flu, Pederson suggests staying home, resting and drinking plenty of fluids.
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