Gem State Roundup

Idaho reports first flu death of the season, in older adult from North Idaho

By: - November 10, 2022 10:26 am
Empty Hospital Bed in a Ward

(Getty Images)

Idaho reported the first influenza-related death of this year’s flu season on Thursday, in a Nez Perce County man older than 65.

In recent years, Idaho has reported an average of 45 deaths related to the flu.

Most of those deaths are in older adults.

“The Department of Health and Welfare is reminding residents that flu can be very serious,” Idaho Influenza Surveillance Coordinator Dr. Leslie Tengelsen said in a news release. “Influenza activity is on the rise in Idaho and across the country, with the highest nationwide activity currently being seen in eastern and southeastern states.”

The flu season in Idaho typically begins later in the fall, taking its first life in November. But every flu season varies; some begin earlier or later.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said in a news release that three respiratory viruses capable of causing hospitalization and death are now circulating at the same time in Idaho: influenza, the COVID-19 coronavirus and RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus.

A local children’s health care official said in a recent interview that parainfluenza, another respiratory virus, has also been causing illness in Idaho.

Public health experts and health care providers urge Idahoans to protect themselves and vulnerable loved ones from disease by:

  • getting the annual flu shot, which is available to anyone over six months old;
  • staying up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters, also available to anyone over six months old;
  • practicing good hygiene such as washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, staying home when sick, wearing masks and keeping a physical distance in shared public spaces;
  • getting enough rest and exercise, eating healthy and drinking water.

The people most vulnerable to severe illness from influenza are those with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, infants and young children, and people age 65 and older.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills or fatigue.

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Audrey Dutton
Audrey Dutton

Audrey Dutton, senior investigative reporter, joined the Idaho Capital Sun after 10 years at the Idaho Statesman. Her favorite topics to cover include health care, business, consumer protection issues and white collar crime. Dutton hails from Twin Falls. She attended college at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and received a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York City. Before coming home to Idaho, Dutton worked as a journalist in Minnesota, New York, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Dutton's work has earned dozens of state, regional and national awards for investigative reporting, health care and business reporting, data visualization and more.

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