Flu and RSV Cases Are Increasing in Missoula
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Following a national trend, the Missoula City-County Health Department told KGVO News that flu cases are showing up earlier than normal and that RSV cases are also appearing in children, which is also concerning.
Health Department Health Promotions Division Director Cindy Farr first addressed the issue of increasing flu cases.
Flu Cases are Arriving Much Earlier Than Normal This Year
“We're definitely seeing a much earlier flu season than we usually do,” began Farr. “We don't usually start seeing cases of flu until after the holidays, generally in January or late December, and we are already seeing quite a few cases in Montana. There is a concern because we're seeing the season so early and it also seems to be a little bit more severe than past flu seasons.”
Farr said the strategies that have been used to protect families from COVID-19 are also effective to keep from spreading the flu.
COVID Precautions also Help Protect from the Flu
“We're definitely recommending that people protect themselves from flu,” she said. “Actually, a lot of the things that we did to protect ourselves from COVID will also work to protect yourself from the flu. Those include frequently washing your hands, making sure that you are staying away from people that are sick, wearing a mask, social distancing, all those things will also help protect you from flu.”
Farr also emphasized the fact that cases of RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) are on the increase in Missoula children.
“We're also seeing a lot of RSV right now too, and that really affects little kids,” she said. “It's an upper respiratory infection in those little kiddos, so we definitely want to make sure that everybody is protected. You can get your flu shot at most pharmacies, but you can also get it at the health department. We do take walk-ins from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and we can schedule appointments for Wednesdays.”
Flu and COVID Symptoms can be Similar
Farr acknowledged that symptoms of the flu and COVID can be similar, and offered advice on how to initiate treatment.
“There are not a whole lot of ways to differentiate between the flu and COVID,” she said. We recommend that if you are having symptoms, you can certainly go to a healthcare provider and you can get tested for COVID and the flu at the same time. They do have a rapid test for that, or you could certainly do a home test for COVID, and if that comes back negative then you’ll probably want to see a health care provider to see if you have the flu.”
Farr advises anyone with flu-like symptoms to see their healthcare provider or visit the Missoula City-County Health Department at 301 West Alder. Click here, or call 406-257-4770.