BILLINGS - Yellowstone County reported its third influenza death for the 2021-2022 season.
RiverStone Health said in a press release Monday the deceased was a woman in her 80s who died on April 21 at a Billings hospital.
This was the second flu death in a week among Yellowstone County residents. On April 16, a woman in her 70s died of influenza at a Billings hospital. The first Yellowstone County flu death occurred in December.
In the week ending April 23, Yellowstone County reported 51 new cases of influenza. That is fewer than the 63 cases reported in the previous week, but more than any week of February or March when weekly case counts ranged from 10 to 26. Viral testing confirms cases.
Between 2015 and 2020, Yellowstone County had an average of five fatal flu cases per year. In the 2020-2021 flu season, no deaths or cases of flu were confirmed in Montana.
So far this season, the entire state of Montana has recorded eight influenza deaths, according to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. Five of the Montanans who died were over age 65, one was an adult younger than 65 and two deaths involved children.
The 1,097 cases of flu reported this season in Yellowstone County include 32 infants and 614 children ages 1-18.
Annual flu shots reduce the risk of contracting flu. In addition to an annual flu shot, everyday precautions can help prevent the spread of influenza. Those measures include:
· Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
· Washing your hands often with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, if soap and water are not available.
· Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
· Avoiding close contact with sick people.
· Staying home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or necessities.
Medication to reduce the severity of flu is most effective when given soon after symptoms start. Symptoms may include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, headaches, muscle or body aches, fatigue and runny or stuffy nose. Some people have vomiting and diarrhea, which are more common in children. Not everyone with flu will have a fever. If you or a family member have flu-like symptoms, please consult your healthcare provider.