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Child in Yellowstone County is Montana's first flu death of the season

Most efforts to develop a universal flu vaccine have focused on the lollipop-shaped hemagglutinin protein (pink in this illustration of a flu virus).

Montana has recorded its first death due to influenza this season.

RiverStone Health and the state health department confirm a Yellowstone County child died Dec. 24, the first death and the first pediatric death of the 2021-2022 influenza season in Montana. RiverStone reports the child had underlying health conditions and was not vaccinated against the flu. There is no other information on the child.

Nationwide the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported no pediatric flu deaths for the week ending Dec. 25, 2021. The last pediatric flu-related death in Montana was in the 2018-2019 influenza season.

Influenza cases have been confirmed in 35 counties across the state. RiverStone says more than 300 cases have been reported in Yellowstone County, more than half of them in children and teens under 18.

Kay Erickson has been working in broadcasting in Billings for more than 20 years. She spent well over a decade as news assignment editor at KTVQ-TV before joining the staff at YPR. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a degree in broadcast journalism. Shortly after graduation she worked in Great Falls where she was one of the first female sports anchor and reporter in Montana.