Flu Watch

Jan 15, 2013 6:54 PM by Dax VanFossen - KAJ News

Flathead County still coping with flu outbreak

KALISPELL - The number of flu cases continues to rise in Flathead County, and could surpass 300 by early next week. Reporter Dax VanFossen found out that there are several reasons for the latest surge of influenza.

"It's kind of a normal cycle, where we're going to see some ramping up of disease. Last week our reporting period, we had 92 reported either by a clinician doing a rapid test or sending it to the lab for PCR analysis," Flathead County Health Director Joe Russell explained.

Those 92 new cases as of Monday bring the number of confirmed cases of influenza in Flathead County to 244.

Russell told us that less than 40% of the Flathead population is even vaccinated against the flu, and that the vaccine doesn't necessarily mean you won't come down with the flu.

"The vaccine over all age periods seems to have been about 62% effective. The younger you are, the higher the effectiveness. The older you are the lower the effectiveness. So when you look at it at all ages, it's about 62%."

Russell also told that there's no need to panic, saying that one of the biggest reasons for concern about this flu season, is that it simply came earlier this year.

He added the best thing you can do to stay healthy is to get you and your children vaccinated.

"You kind of get this perfect storm, where you just don't get to what we call herd immunity. We probably will never see a herd immunity environment with influenza, but we'd certainly like to get a little closer," Russell said.

We also spoke to Jim Oliverson at Kalispell Regional Medical Center about whether or not they have taken any special precautions due to the flu outbreak.

He says that all of their staff is either required to be vaccinated or wear a face mask. However there are no special restrictions for visitors at this time.

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