The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services confirmed on Thursday that the first confirmed case of influenza in the state is a child from Flathead County.

Flu Epidemiologist for the State of Montana Devon Cozart provides details.

“This first case we have is a pediatric case out of Flathead County,” said Cozart. “It is currently an isolated case. When we're talking about symptoms flu and COVID can be pretty similar. So if you start having respiratory symptoms, we recommend going to your medical provider and getting a test or other recommendations directly from them. However, with flu, we can see more vomiting, of course flu as opposed to COVID, where we really can't distinguish lost taste and smell is always good to watch for as well as COVID Coming with shortness of breath.”

Susan Reeser, Nurse Consultant for Immunization for DPHHS said it is possible to get the flu and COVID simultaneously.

“Yes, it is definitely possible to get flu and COVID-19 at the same time,” said Reeser. “Obviously, the younger or the older, the more susceptible. If you did get both at the same time, you would be pretty miserable. There's not a better way to put that really, it's going to take a lot out of your body. Anytime you have two diseases at once, it's going to take a lot out of your body. It's something that you would want to get tested for either way, but again, we recommend going to your medical provider and getting the ideal test for you.”

Cozart said testing is possible for both.

“You can get a test that will catch them both at the same time actually, and we have multiple tests for that, but primarily nasal samples on both sides, both of them would be, and we can run both rapids and PCRs (polymerase chain reaction) on both of those so they're actually pretty similar tests overall,” she said.

Reeser compared how the flu and COVID can spread.

“A person can be contagious up to one day before they actually start showing symptoms for the flu,” she said. “But that can usually go on for another about five to seven days. It's actually a much shorter time span. With COVID, you can start spreading two days before we actually start showing symptoms of COVID, and you can start spreading it to other people. And then after that, you can go for about 10 days with symptoms.”

Symptoms of flu, COVID-19, and other respiratory illnesses are similar and the differences between them cannot be made based on symptoms alone. Both Cozart and Reeser strongly recommend that you see your medical provider if any symptoms develop.

The flu and COVID vaccines can be administered at the same time.

For more information about the flu, click here.


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