Flu Watch

Jan 7, 2014 9:30 PM by Claire Anderson - MTN News

Montana seeing flu cases with H1N1 strain

GREAT FALLS - The flu season is in full swing across the United States as well as in parts of Montana.

The Cascade City-County Health Department reports that more than 150 cases of influenza have been reported since the season started in early December.

Benefis Health System has admitted 21 flu patients since the beginning of December - and 10 cases since Jan. 1.

Several of the hospitalized patients were placed in the intensive care unit due to the severity of their symptoms.

Benefis also says a number of these patients were transported from nearby communities because of the severe health risks.

The Centers for Disease Control put out a Health Advisory around Christmas to be aware of numerous reports of the H1N1 virus, and CCD said they've seen this strand in Central Montana.

"The most common strain, the majority of the reports we've been getting for flu cases that have been hospitalized or gone into the walk-in care, has been the 2009 H1N1, the swine flu," Registered Nurse Tawnee Winberry of the Cascade City-County Health Department said.

Health officials encourage anyone six months or older to get the vaccination and this year's vaccine does include protection against H1N1, two influenza "A" viruses, and an influenza "B" virus.

They also say even if you got the flu shot last year or the swine flu vaccination back in 2009, it is very important to get the latest vaccine in order to be protect from this season.

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