State officials have confirmed that influenza played a role in the deaths of two Montanans at the end of November. According to State Epidemiologist Stacey Anderson this is something that happens every year.

"We had a report of the first two influenza related deaths in Montana for the season," Anderson said. "Unfortunately this is something that can happen and does happen every year during flu season, last year, for example, we had 56 flu related deaths that we were able to capture through our reporting mechanism."

Anderson says both of these cases were in Flathead County and both individuals were over 65, she says the influenza vaccine batch used this year will help combat the strain being detected in Montana now.

"So far what we are seeing in the United States, as well as Montana, is that the predominant strain is influenza A (H3) and that strain is one of the strains that make up the 2017-18 influenza vaccine," Anderson said. "In the past week we have definitely seen an increase in flu activity across the state."

Influenza typically spreads quickly this time of year, known as flu season. The peak number of cases usually occurs sometime between the end of December and early February.

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