HELENA – The flu is continuing to spread across the Treasure State.
Nearly 500 new cases were reported by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) for the week ending January 26.
The new numbers put the total amount of cases for the season at just under 1,500 in 46 counties. And of those, 75 required hospitalization and two were fatal.
No new influenza outbreaks were reported during week 4.
Cascade, Missoula, and Ravalli counties had the most new cases. There were 59 newly reported influenza cases in Cascade County while Missoula County had 84. Lewis and Clark County saw 40 newly reported cases.
(December 3, 2018) MISSOULA – The passing of a 6-year-old Missoula girl has been confirmed as the state’s first influenza-related death of the 2018-2019 flu season.
The Missoula City-County Health Department, along with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, have confirmed 6-year-old Allison Eaglespeaker passed away on Saturday, December 1 due to the flu.
The young girl was admitted to the hospital on Friday night, according to her mother Crystal White Shield.
Crystal said in a Facebook post that her daughter was quickly moved to the ICU due to a combination of the flu, pneumonia, and asthma.
Allison was a kindergartner at Russell Elementary School.
Teachers and staff offered support for students on Monday who have questions about Allison and simply about the loss of a life.
Missoula County Public Schools spokesperson Hatton Littman said support is different for young kids compared to some of the older high school students.
MCPS also encourages parents to talk about grief and loss if students have questions.
Nationwide, the CDC reports there have been five flu-related pediatric deaths so far this season.
In Montana, the last flu-related pediatric death occurred during the 2017-2018 influenza season when one child under the age of 18 died.
Health officials said influenza activity is currently at low levels in Montana. However, this is expected to change in the coming weeks.
This season, there have been 36 cases and six hospitalizations reported in Montana. This includes twelve cases and one influenza-related hospitalization in Missoula County.
Last season, more than 10,000 cases, 979 hospitalizations and 79 deaths were reported across Montana, including seven deaths in Missoula County.