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posted on December 31, 2013 10:34

NEWS RELEASE--FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                             DATE: Dec. 30, 2013

Tom Shanahan
Public Information Officer
(208) 334-0668

Health Officials Report First Flu-Related Death  

An elderly Idaho adult over the age of 60 from south central Idaho has died from an influenza-related illness, the first death attributed to seasonal influenza in Idaho this season. Last flu season, 35 people died from flu-related illnesses in Idaho.

“Our condolences go out to the family of the person who died from complications of the flu,” says Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Leslie Tengelsen. “This underscores how important it is for all of us to take precautions to avoid influenza infections. Now is the time to call your health care provider or local public health district and schedule an appointment to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”  

Flu-related illnesses are being reported throughout the nation and state. Most people who get influenza recover after a few days, but some people may develop serious complications and even die. Every year, flu contributes to the deaths of 36,000 people in the United States and causes more than 200,000 hospitalizations.

The dominant strain of flu being detected is an H1N1 strain that first began circulating in 2009. This strain can affect anyone, but appears to cause more severe respiratory illnesses to young and middle-aged adults than other strains. “The strains included in this year’s vaccines are considered an excellent match for the viruses currently circulating,” Tengelsen says. “There is plenty of vaccine available, so people should not wait to get vaccinated.” Everyone over six months of age are recommended to get the flu vaccine.  

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that infects 5-20% of people every year. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and sometimes a cough and sore throat. Complications of the flu can lead to more serious illnesses, including death. People who are especially vulnerable to complications of the flu include:

  • Pregnant women
  • People 50 years of age and older
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, heart or lung diseases
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu

In addition to getting vaccinated, people can protect themselves from the influenza virus and other respiratory illnesses by practicing good health hygiene habits. To avoid infection, you are urged to:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing to prevent infecting other people. Avoid people who appear sick.
  • Stay home from work when sick.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after being out in the public. 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.

For information about influenza and how to stay healthy, please visit