Local and state health officials Thursday confirmed Montana’s first influenza case since April of 2020. It involves a child from Flathead County.

Health officials were testing for influenza last flu season, but detected none. They attribute that to public health policies implemented during the pandemic’s early days, including widespread adoption of masking mandates and social distancing.

Montana’s mask mandate has since been rescinded and distancing is no longer as common.

Montana’s 2019-2020 flu season racked-up over 11,000 cases, 514 hospitalizations and 41 deaths.

Health officials say the flu shot, like COVID vaccines, prevent or lessen the virus’s impact. The vaccines can also be received simultaneously.

Flu symptoms are similar to COVID’s and include fever, exhaustion, body aches and coughing. A diagnosis can only be confirmed through testing.

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