flu

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Lots of wildfire smoke in the summer can lead to more flu outbreaks in the winter, according to a recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environment International

Wyoming Department of Health

It's flu season, so public health officials are pushing the flu shot, but many in the Mountain West are particularly bad at taking that advice.

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Despite spring approaching, flu season is not quite over.

The flu epidemic was especially deadly last year. And our region was no exception. Tens of thousands of people are estimated to have died in the U.S. from the flu virus last season, including a record high of 180 children.  

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Flu numbers are rising in Wyoming, with the highest levels reported in the southwestern corner of the state.

The Wyoming Department of Health’s Kim Deti said people should keep common-sense measures in mind to help slow or prevent spreading the flu.

That includes frequently washing your hands, staying home if you’re sick, and using your sleeve or a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing. Flu season runs from October through May, so Deti said it’s likely not quite peak flu season.

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Flu season has arrived in Wyoming, and the state’s Department of Health is urging residents to get their flu shots.

Department spokeswoman Kim Deti said it is nearly impossible to predict the severity of the flu season ahead of time, but they can always predict that it is coming.

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The Wyoming Department of Health has reported an increase in flu activity, and is encouraging residents to take steps to avoid spreading the virus or becoming ill.

Kim Deti, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health, says that last year’s season was especially severe with 29 influenza-related deaths reported in Wyoming. She also says that it is not too late to get the vaccine, since the timing of peak flu activity can vary from season to season.

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Flu activity has yet to pick up in Wyoming this season. The Centers for Disease Control ranks Wyoming’s current level of flu as “sporadic,” similar to the rest of the country. 

Kim Deti with the Wyoming Department of Health says, with 29 flu-related deaths, last year’s flu season was one of the most severe on record. Deti says the best thing you can do to protect yourself is get a flu vaccine.

Wyoming Department of Health

The Wyoming Department of Health is reporting its deadliest flu season in at least 15 years. Since the current flu season began in October, 26 people have died of flu in the state.

That’s out a total 5,000 cases of the illness, according to the Department.  Cases are still being reported, as the season typically ends in May.

Kim Deti says the Department only has records on flu seasons back to 2000.

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In the first weeks of December, reported cases of the flu in Wyoming nearly tripled, signaling an early spike in infection rates. Natrona and Laramie counties have seen the highest numbers of reported cases.

Another reason for concern is that since the development of this season’s flu vaccine, the strain of flu virus most commonly contracted has changed slightly. That means the vaccine is less effective than usual in preventing cases of the flu.

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The Ebola virus may be dominating the headlines and conversations about public health, but Wyoming Public Health officials are trying to educate residents about the threat of another, potentially more dangerous virus: the flu.

Reggie McClinton, with the Wyoming Department of Health, says contracting the flu is a more immediate threat to Wyomingites.

"Influenza also can lead to death in individuals and it can be a severe illness in certain populations so we are receiving reports of cases already from all across the state," he says.

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Flu shots are available in many pharmacies and doctors’ offices across Wyoming, but an infectious disease doctor recommends people put off getting immunized until next month.


Dr. Mark Dowell is the Public Health Officer for Natrona County and is a physician at Wyoming Medical Center. He says Wyoming’s flu season doesn’t usually peak until January, and he says a flu shot from September might be less potent by then.

Recent Flu Numbers High

Jan 9, 2013

Wyoming is reporting the highest rate of influenza since the swine flu epidemicin 2009. Clay Van Houten with the Wyoming Department of Health says numbers are three times as high as last year.

“A couple weeks ago we had a little over 450 cases reported,” says Van Houten, “that’s definitely more than any week we’ve had reported since 2009.”

Flu season is starting earlier than usual in Wyoming. Department of Health Spokeswoman Kim Deti says February and March are usually the peak times for the illness, and it’s not clear why the season is starting early.

Deti says everyone over the age of six months should get a flu shot. She says the vaccines are not guaranteed to prevent getting the flu, but they’re the best protection available.