Flu season may not be over until April, but already, this season appears to be hitting Missoula worse than recent years. “I can’t say it conclusively until the cases start disappearing, but what makes me say that it does seem rougher this year is that, at this time this year, we already have more confirmed cases (and not all cases get confirmed) as we did during the entire flu season last year," Missoula City-County Health Department Health Officer Ellen Leahy.

Leahy says that the leading flu strain this year evolved since the flu shot was created, making it less effective.

“Unfortunately the [strain] that is appearing the most causing illness, actually shifted its genetics a bit, and that caused the shot to be less effective,” Leahy said. “We generally like to see the flu shot be anywhere from 60 to 80 percent effective, and for that particular strain its closer to 23 percent effective.”

Already this year, ten Montanans have died due to complications from the flu. Last year, flu was a cause in only eight deaths by the end of the season.