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Doctors discuss flu, RSV cases being seen in Western Montana

DPHHS urging people to get influenza vaccine before flu season begins
Posted at 8:37 AM, Dec 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-21 10:37:26-05

MISSOULA – Physicians in Missoula report that they are seeing a lot of children who are critically ill.

Doctors at Community Medical Center (CMC) and St. Patrick Hospital say they are still seeing COVID-19 cases as well as a lot of RSV and flu cases.

The flu is expected to stay with us for the next couple of months and the doctors we talked with say the best way to stay healthy and protect others is to make sure you have received a flu shot.

We also talked with two doctors to get an update on the flu situation in Missoula.

“It's not good, mostly because so many people are getting it and it's mixed with other viruses. So, what I would really suggest is that anyone who hasn't gotten their flu shot, get your flu shot,” advised Dr. Alexander Kon who works in pediatric intensive care at CMC. “It's really helpful. It doesn't necessarily mean you won't get the flu at all, but even if you get the flu and you've had your flu shot, you don't get as sick, which is a big part of it. And you’re much less likely to transmit it to younger kids,” Dr. Kon continued.

"We've seen more severe cases of influenza than we’ve seen in the last couple of years. If you go back to the pre-COVID era, every so often we'd see people who are really sick in the hospital or ICU. But last week — when I was in service — I saw there were three people in the ICU due to influenza which is unusual. That's a high number and that can be really severe,” St. Patrick Hospital Infections Disease Specialist Dr. Claude Tonnerre noted.

It’s not too late to get a flu shot and doctors also say people should make sure to get the latest COVID-19 booster shot. Doctors say the booster and the flu shot help protect people from severe illness.

Additionally, the booster and vaccines are important because people were isolated at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and were wearing masks and socially distancing themselves. The doctors we talked with say those factors have made all of these viruses just that much more transmissible.

The biggest point the doctors we spoke with wanted to stress is for you to visit your primary care physician if you or your child are showing symptoms.

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