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Southwest District Health announced first flu-related death of the season

The agency is suggesting that people get their flu vaccination.

CALDWELL, Idaho — Southwest District Health (SWDH) officials announced in a press release that a 65-year-old man from Canyon County has died from flu-related illness. It is the first death of the season in the area.

The agency urged people to get their flu vaccinations.

"Influenza activity is on the rise in Southwest Idaho, but there is still time to protect yourself by getting the flu vaccine," said the Program Manager for Southwest District Health, Ricky Bowman. "Many people with influenza recover after a few days of discomfort, but some people may develop serious complications."

The flu is very contagious and mostly spread from sneezing, coughing and contaminated surfaces. People with the flu often get head and body aches, fever, cough, fatigue and a runny nose and sore throat. SWDH said that people should avoid the emergency room unless they have signs of serious illness and outlined the conditions for children and adults.

Children should go to the emergency room if they have chest pain, blue lips or face, fast or labored breathing, serious muscle pain, a fever or cough that seems to improve and then worsens, dehydration, a fever of over 104 F or if a child is under 12 weeks old, any fever at all.

SWDH advises adults to go if they have persistent pain or pressure in their chest or abdomen, a hard time breathing or shortness of breath, dizziness, an inability to rouse, confusion, severe muscle pain or weakness, a fever and cough that seems to improve and then gets worse and if they are not urinating.

The release furthered that the above list is not "all inclusive" and people can read a full list of symptoms on the CDC website.  The CDC does recommend that children six-months-old and up should get a flu vaccine. It also recommends that all adults should get one, especially those with a risk for more serious illness. That includes people with chronic illnesses like diabetes, asthma, neurological conditions, heart disease, children under five, people over 65, pregnant women and anyone with a weakened immune system. People can also get more information on all high-risk factors at the CDC website.  

The SWDH also recommends actions that may help people from getting the flu like staying at home when you're sick, getting an appropriate amount of rest and exercise, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, washing hands and avoiding touching your eyes, mouth and nose unless your hands are washed.

"Idaho has averaged 45 reported flu deaths each year over the past 5 seasons, with the majority being over the age of 65," said Bowman. "This unfortunate incident serves as a gentle reminder to get vaccinated as soon as possible."

People can get more information on the flu as a whole at the CDC's website and get specific information about Idaho at the state's Department of Health and Welfare website.

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