Pocatello, ID. –  Southeastern Idaho Public Health is sad to announce that four deaths have occurred from an influenza-related illness in Health District 6. The four deaths occurred in people over the age of 50. Southeastern Idaho Public Health officials would like to express their condolences to the families of the people who have died. This is Idaho’s 46th influenza-associated death of the season. Last flu season, 72 people were reported to have died from flu-related illnesses in Idaho.

It is important for all of us to take precautions to avoid influenza infection. If you haven’t already, visit your health care provider, local public health district, or pharmacy to get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated today will help protect you and your family for the rest of the influenza season.

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that infects 5 to 20 percent of the population every year. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and sometimes a cough and sore throat. Most people who get influenza recover after a few days, but some people may develop serious complications and even die. Every year, the flu contributes to an estimated 36,000 deaths in the United States, along with more than 200,000 hospitalizations.

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.

Everyone over six months of age are recommended to get the flu vaccine. Along with the vaccine, people should follow these recommendations to protect themselves and others:
• 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 or school 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 www.cdc.gov/flu or http://flu.idaho.gov or contact Southeastern Idaho Public Health at 233-9080.