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Flu death reported in Idaho for first time this season

Idaho has averaged 45 reported influenza-related deaths each year for the last five seasons.

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare confirms the first influenza-related death of the 2022-2023 flu season.

The name of the person who died isn't being released, but IDHW said Thursday that he was a resident of Nez Perce County, in north-central Idaho, and was over the age of 65.

Over the past five seasons, Idaho has averaged 45 reported flu-related deaths each year, with most of them being among people 65 and older.

"The Department of Health and Welfare is reminding residents that flu can be very serious," said Idaho Influenza Surveillance Coordinator Dr. Leslie Tengelsen. "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"

Three respiratory viruses are in circulation right now: influenza, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). The potential for elevated respiratory infections due to co-circulation of these viruses has, in recent weeks, been referred to as the "triple threat" or "tripledemic."

Tengelsen said everyone over six months of age should get an annual flu vaccine and stay up to date on COVID-19 boosters. Getting the flu vaccine every year is especially important for people at higher risk for serious flu-related complications, including people with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, young children, and anyone 65 years of age or older. Healthy people should be vaccinated to protect vulnerable populations.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, or fatigue. Although most people who get the flu recover after a few days, some people can have serious complications, including death.

Here's a list of other recommended actions people can take to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including the flu:

  • Wear a mask and physically distance yourself whenever you are in public.
  • Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth until you have washed your hands.
  • Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids, eat nutritious foods, and take part in physical activity to stay healthy.
  • Avoid people who appear sick.
  • Stay home from work or school when sick.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.

So far in the 2022-23 flu season, 1,700 specimens have been tested for influenza at the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories; eight of them tested positive. More than 7,500 specimens tested positive nationwide as of the end of October.

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