Health officials confirmed the first death of the flu season Tuesday, while reporting another 170 people across the state that have been hospitalized.
The Southwest Utah Public Health Department says an adult under the age of 65 died from Type A Influenza in its district — which could be anywhere in Bear, Garfield, Kane, Iron and Washington counties.
The department didn’t identify or give any other information on the person who died, citing patient privacy laws.
Type A and B flu viruses cause epidemics almost every winter, according to the department. The virus is contagious and can be spread when someone who is infected speaks, coughs or sneezes.
Despite the number of hospitalizations, health officials are calling it a “moderate” flu season. However, officials from the Salt Lake Count Health Department said there’s been an unusually high number of flu cases so far — which isn’t typically seen until the end of the flu season.
“We have had 36 people hospitalized from the flu this season,” Kassidy Peterson, Southwest Utah Public Health Department Epidemiologist said in a statement. “Their ages range from infants to the elderly.”
Young children and adults older than 65 are among those who are at high risk of flu complications. Health officials also encourage pregnant women and those with chronic medical conditions to consult their doctors when they begin to experience symptoms.
Health officials are urging Utahns to avoid the flu, encouraging them to get their flu shots if they haven’t already.
“It’s not too late to get vaccinated and we urge everyone to do so, especially those whose age or health condition makes them more vulnerable,” Peterson said.