Over 200 new cases of the flu have been reported in Montana in the past two weeks.

The Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) reported on their website that 238 cases were reported with 66 of those influenza cases requiring hospitalization. The most flu cases are in Cascade and Big Horn Counties. Two flu reports were in Ravalli County. Those figures are updated weekly.

Jon Ebelt of the DPHHS noted in a December 21st news release that flu cases normally increase this month, but that a flu shot is still the best protection. He said that even if it doesn't stop one of the current strains of the flu, the shot often lessens the severity of the illness.

Last season, 829 people in Montana were hospitalized with the flu and 56 deaths were related to influenza.

Holiday travel suggestions from the health folks:

  • Avoid contact with sick people
  • Stay at home if you are sick
  • Cover your cough
  • Wash your hands with soap and water to reduce spread of germs
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces regularly
  • If you do get the flu, talk with your healthcare provider about options

The main flu strain being reported is Influenza A H3, according to the Montana DPHHS website.