First Montana flu death of the season confirmed

The first person in Montana to die of the flu this season was confirmed by the Department of Public Health and Human Services in its latest report.

The affected person was over 65 years old.

The Montana Department of Health says this year, the Influenza-B virus is more prevalent, and that is causing issues for the most vulnerable age groups.

Stacey Anderson, Epidemiologist for DPHHS added, “ This year, rates for severe cases of flu, like hospitalization for example, are a little bit higher in the greater than 65 crowd as well as the 0 to 4 year age group. Influenza-B tends to be a little more severe in children especially."

So far in Montana, 1,600 people have contracted influenza, with 100 needing hospitalization.

At this same time last year, only 56 people required a hospital-stay. That number jumped to more than 750 out of 13,000 total reported cases by the end of the season, as most cases occur in February and March.

The Montana Department of Health says the state’s 2019-2020 flu season numbers are close to what it expected, and not as severe as most other states.