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After record breaking flu season, Dept. of Health and Welfare prepares for 2017-2018

Last year was the deadliest flu season on record in Idaho with 72 influenza-related deaths.

Last year was the deadliest flu season on record in Idaho with 72 influenza-related deaths.

“We certainly saw a record number of deaths last year, so certainly want people to be prepared,” said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, Idaho's State Influenza Surveillance Coordinator at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare saw multiple strains of the virus in the 2016-2017 season.

“A combination of a million different viruses that circulate there can be up to four different flu viruses," Tengelsen said. "In fact, we saw all four different flu viruses in Idaho and across the country last year.”

While there’s no way to predict if the upcoming winter will be as bad, Tengelsen says the best way to prevent another deadly season is to get the flu shot as soon as possible.

“The gold standard is the flu vaccine but there are other things you can do – cover your cough if you’re sick, stay home from work if you’re ill don’t bring it to work. And don’t bring it to assisted livings or nursing home situations where there are individuals that are quite vulnerable," Tengelsen said.

The influenza virus spreads like wildfire through warm, enclosed spaces – which is why fall and winter months are peak flu season.

“We typically officially start tracking flu season the first week of October, and it generally lasts into February or March but we’ll keep a really close eye on flu season all the way until May.”

It's important to watch for signs and symptoms of the flu like coughing, fatigue, and aching.

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