The Missoula City County Health Department reported on Thursday that as of the week of December 22, there were nearly 150 cases of flu throughout the state.

Immunization Clinic Manager Colleen Morris said flu cases have been increasing as the winter deepens.

“It looks like since mid-November that we’ve definitely seen an increase in flu cases,” said Morris from her office at the City County Health Department. “As of December 22 we had about 144 cases in Montana confirmed by the state lab. Compared to last year this is a much less serious year when it comes to flu cases in the state.”

Morris also confirmed that two people have died due to complications of the flu this season.

“There has been a confirmed pediatric death in the state, as well as another over the age of 65 death, so there have been two deaths this season,” she said. “The flu season will continue till about March, so it’s never too late to get the flu vaccine.”

Morris also said those in the early stages of the flu can see their doctor for relief.

“If you can get a hold of your primary care provider or go to an urgent care clinic within two to three days of being sick, they can prescribe an antiviral medication for you that can really shorten the length of your illness and make it less severe,” said Morris. “It will also decrease the chance of any serious complications like pneumonia or hospitalization.”

Flu vaccines are still available on a sliding fee scale at the Health Department, as well as most local pharmacies.

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