BOISE - State health officials say a man from northern Idaho has died from a flu-related illness.
This is Idaho's first flu-related death of the season. The first reported flu death last season didn't occur until December.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has issued a warning that the flu season appears to have arrived early this year. Health and Welfare says in addition to the north Idaho man's death, there have been early reports of flu activity from other parts of the state.
"We certainly don't know when it'll peak this season, but its an early indicator that flu is coming," Leslie Tengelsen, state influenza surveillance coordinator with Health and Welfare, said.
"We just can't tell right now how severe the season is going to be so its really important that people assume the worst and take precautions."
Those precautions include staying home if you're sick, washing your hands frequently and, of course, getting a flu shot.
"The flu shot can take up to two weeks to become effective, so i would say people should go out now and get the shot," Tengelsen said.
Tengelsen says vulnerable groups include pregnant women, young children and the elderly.
"This is a high risk-group and we want to make sure that they are protected," Mary Hall-Smith, communication director at Willow Park Senior Living in Boise, said.
Hall-Smith said they have residents ages 63 to 108. Many of them have numerous diseases like congestive heart failure, or respiratory issues.
"When you have multiple types of challenges physically you're more at risk of getting the flu - and not surviving it," Hall-Smith said.
A few years back, Willow Park had a pretty bad flu outbreak.
"Really and truly, we can have somebody that's probably high functioning and doing pretty well and they get the flu," Hall-Smith said."And if they don't have any reserves there's a real high chance that they can pass - and that has happened before.
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