Influenza appears to be making headway into Montana earlier than normal this year. Carl Milhon from the department of health and human services epidemiology department says "they're comparing it to a season we had about 9 years ago, which was one of the worst we've ever had."

The outbreak has already struck hard in the southern states and has only begun to make inroads into Montana. "the intensity levels aren't there yet for Montana," says Milhon, "we need to look at that as an opportunity for people to get vaccinated. To give you a comparison last year our first confirmed case was like December 6, this year we already have 26 confirmed cases along with hundreds of unconfirmed cases."

Five Montana counties have confirmed influenza cases, including Missoula where experts estimate between 1 and 100 people have already contracted the virus. To get a broader historical perspective of flu in Montana, visit the Center for Disease control website where they keep track of an overwhelming amount of flu data.

Interview with Carl Milhon from the Department of Health and Human Services Epidemiology and Contagious diseases department:

The department of Public health and human services is advising the public to get the flu shot as soon as possible to prevent a large outbreak, keep in mind that that flu shot will only begin to be effective two weeks after the shot is received.