Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - A child in Big Horn County is the first pediatric death from the flu reported in Montana for the 2023-2024 influenza season.

KGVO News spoke to Magdalena Scott, Supervisor for the Communicable Disease Epidemiology section with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services in Helena, who provided the sad details of the first pediatric flu death.

A Child in Big Horn County is the First Pediatric Flu Death in Montana

“We are still investigating what happened with this child,” began Scott. “As you said, we did have our first pediatric flu death related to influenza this season. I will note that we have had nine total deaths reported already this season from around the state, and it's just super unfortunate to see a child so young who passed away.”

Scott told KGVO News that there are large numbers of flu, COVID and RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus) that have been reported throughout the state so far this flu season.

DPHHS says this flu, RSV and COVID Season has been Filling Hospitals

“Unfortunately we're seeing increased flu activity all over the state and all over the country too,” she said. “I was just on a call with CDC (The Centers for Disease Control) the other day and pretty much every state is showing increases in their influenza activity. We're also seeing a lot of COVID activity as well going on right now. And then RSV, respiratory syncytial virus, is another respiratory illness that affects especially children or elderly adults. We're also seeing increases in those cases. So there's a lot of respiratory illness going around all over the state and the country right now.”

Trisha Gardner, Medical Education Section Supervisor with DPHHS, explained how important it is for each person to be properly vaccinated, especially for the safety of family members and coworkers.

DPHHS says a Flu Vaccination will Help Loved Ones as well as Yourself

“I would encourage that to be a big point when you're considering vaccinating yourself or your children and other dependents, and what the impact is to your larger family circle or friends,” said Gardner. “You may be healthy enough to get it (the vaccination) and have a family member that has some contraindications as to why so it becomes even more important that those people that can receive those do and it's a step they can take to protecting those that they love.”

This week’s flu death was the 11th reported so far this season. DPHHS reports that cases and outbreaks are occurring in 49 of the 56 counties (that’s 88 percent) in Montana.

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