The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and can even lead to death. On average every year in the United States, 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu. More that 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications and about 36,000 people die from the flu. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting your vaccination each year.
Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person in respiratory droplets by the coughing or sneezing of people infected with the flu. People also can become infected by touching anything with the flu virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eye.
Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to at least 5 days after the onset of symptoms. That means you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
Public Health Flu Clinics
The Public Health Office has flu vaccine for all ages available.
Please call us at 406-375-6672 to schedule an appointment.
Public Health accepts Medicaid and most insurance - but please let us know who your insurer is when you make your appointment. We accept cash or check for payment (sorry no debit or credit cards). For those under 18, an adult guardian or parent must be present.
What You Can Do
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. Additionally, basic health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands frequently can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses to others, especially the flu. The following are good health habits to follow on a daily basis to decrease the spread of many viruses:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you get sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick.
- Stay home when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness. Do not send sick children to school or day care as viral illnesses are easily spread.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean your hands often to protect yourself from germs. Wash your hands with warm, clean water and soap for 15-20 seconds (sing Happy Birthday to yourself twice.) Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door. If you are not near water, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
- Antiseptically clean frequently used objects, such as office equipment including computer keyboards, telephones, copier keypads, etc.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.
If You Do Get The Flu
Here are some actions you can take at home if you do get the flu: Rest extensively, drink plenty of non-caffeinated liquids, and avoid using alcohol and tobacco. You may be able to take medication to relieve the symptoms of the flu, but only as directed on the medication. Never give aspirin to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms *particularly fever* unless directed otherwise by your doctor.
For more information, please visit the CDC website.