Flu is affecting people in Montana earlier this season - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Flu is affecting people in Montana earlier this season

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MISSOULA -

In Montana, the flu is affecting people earlier this year than previous years.

Brad Applegate, Registered Nurse and Infectious Disease Specialist at Missoula City County Health Department said that across the state this flu season more than 650 people have been diagnosed, more than 110 people have been hospitalized, and nine people have died from the flu.

Applegate said that most people who have been affected by the flu are over the age of 65.

He said that in general older people and younger children are more susceptible to complications from the flu.

Applegate said that one strain of the flu predicted for this flu season, the H3N2 mutated so he said that the vaccination will not protect people against that strain.

But he said that the vaccination will protect people against other strains of the flu so he said that it is important to get those vaccinations.

"This flu season has been pretty similar to numbers last season. The difference is it started about two weeks earlier, so all the trends we have been seeing have been happening about two weeks earlier. So right now is equivalent to about two weeks from now as it was last year," said Applegate.

Applegate said that in addition to getting the vaccine, it is important for people to constantly wash their hands.

Also, it is important for people who do have the flu to stay home from work or school until you are symptom free for at least 24 hours.

Although national flu cases are reaching record numbers, Applegate said that the number of people across Montana affected by the flu is standard for the season.

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