BILLINGS- Influenza activity increased dramatically in the past week and is now considered widespread in Montana.
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services reports 332 new cases in the third week of monitoring flu activity.
That’s an increase of 50 percent over the week before.
Gallatin County led with the largest number of new cases at 64.
Yellowstone County reported 20 new cases in the past week.
Influenza is a respiratory illness and symptoms include headaches, fever, body aches, coughing and a sore throat.
“We really want people to be immunized,” said Kim Bailey, communicable disease program manager and a registered nurse at RiverStone Health. “Certainly if people have signs or symptoms and they become pretty ill, then they should go into their provider and they should go early. Our message is always prevention, so get your flu shot, cover your cough, stay home if you’re sick, wash your hands.”
In Yellowstone County, there have been 67 flu cases with 15 hospitalizations and no deaths.
In Montana, there have been 978 cases of the flu in 44 counties, with 58 hospitalizations and two deaths, including one child.