2011-2012 Flu season picking up late in Montana

Flu season is just starting to show itself in Montana. It’s been a late start, and a calm one.

Normally, Montana media would have been talking about the flu season’s rise a long time ago—months ago even. But It’s different this time.

“It’s been pretty quiet,” said Lewis and Clark County Health Department Public Health Nurse, Karen Dobson.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services released a report at the end of 2011 showing only Lake County and Gallatin County had reported any flu cases at all. Dr. Joseph Bresee with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the flu season didn’t officially start until mid-February.

“Activity this season is off to a very late start. In fact this is the latest start to the flu season in 29 years,” Bresee said during a phone conference with reporters last month. He still suggests caution. He says in the last 35 seasons, peak flu activity in the U.S. has happened in March four times and April twice.

“So we can’t predict the timing of peak activity in the United States nor when the season will end. Nor can we predict how severe the season will be,” he said.

In Montana, Public Health Nurse Karen Dobson says the slow, quiet season is picking up.

“People haven’t been that ill up until about three weeks ago is when we started seeing a jump here in Lewis and Clark County,” she said.

It’s not too late to get a flu shot and it might still be a good idea.

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