Dramatic Jump in Idaho Flu Deaths in Early Weeks of 2015

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Flu—not the snifflly sore throat kind, but the kind that kills—is rearing its ugly head in Idaho again this season.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reports that in the first few weeks of the new year, the death toll linked to flu-related illness has jumped. While only three deaths were linked to the virus at the beginning of the flu season—between October and the end of 2014—that number climbed to 16 between Jan. 8 and Jan. 22, representing one patient dying every day for two weeks.

"Over the past five years there has been an average of 20 influenza-related deaths reported per season," Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Leslie Tengelsen stated in a press release Monday. "Since this flu season is likely far from over, people need to take measures to protect themselves to reduce their chances of illness."

Once more, health experts are urging the public to consider a flu vaccination as soon as possible and to avoid the spread of the virus by frequent washing of hands and staying home from work or school if sickness comes.