Health officials have confirmed that a man over the age of 60 in south central Idaho has died from the H1N1 flu virus. It’s believed that his death is Idaho’s first flu related death of the season. So far, health officials in Bingham County say that the flu hasn’t hit the area too hard, but “it’s still early in the season.”
Last year there were 35 flu-related deaths in Idaho.
“We haven’t seen much of the flu yet,” said Laurie Eldredge, infection prevention specialist at Bingham Memorial Hospital. “I’ve seen one case test positive for H1N1 so far,” she said. She added that the flu can be detected quickly and accurately with a new “flu test swab.”
Eldredge said that Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls has seen a lot of confirmed cases and that it’s likely just a matter of time before the flu really hits Bingham County.
“Last year the flu didn’t hit here until January,” she said. “It’ll still likely hit the area.”
Kathy Andreason, director of nursing at Blackfoot Medical Center, said they have seen a few confirmed cases of the flu.
The dominant H1N1 flu strain first began circulating in 2009 and can affect anyone, but appears to cause more respiratory illnesses to young and middle-aged adults than other strains.
Symptoms include fever, headache, cough, sore throat and fatigue.
Eldredge encourages everyone who has not already done so to get a flu shot.
“There is still plenty of the flu vaccination available,” she stressed. “The shots are available at Bingham Memorial or any of our sister locations.”
Other “tried and true” preventative measures to avoid getting and/or spreading the flu include:
-Covering mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
-Avoid being around sick people.
-Stay home from work when you are sick.
-Wash hands frequently, especially after being out in the public. Avoid touch touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
-Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids, stay physically active and eat healthy to maintain a strong immune system.