The Salt Lake County Health Department on Monday announced the season's first reported hospitalized case of influenza.

SALT LAKE CITY — A drop in outdoor temperatures in October has ushered in cold and flu season, with the first hospitalized case of influenza in Salt Lake County.

One child under age 18 has been hospitalized with the flu, Salt Lake County Health Department officials said Monday. Influenza, which presents with cold-like symptoms, is a reported illness in the state, specifically in the case of hospitalizations or death.

The department reports that 443 people were hospitalized last year in the greater Salt Lake area. That was almost half of the state's total hospitalizations for the 2012-13 flu season, when 985 Utahns were hospitalized.

The largest number of those hospitalizations occurred in late December and early January, according to the county health department.

Salt Lake and Utah counties, as well as southwestern Utah, had the highest number of hospitalized cases of influenza last year, with the majority of those occurring in adults over age 65. However, influenza impacts populations across the age spectrum. It can be more serious in the youngest and oldest populations.

Nationally, about 36,000 Americans die from influenza each year.

Flu season generally runs from October through May, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people receive a flu shot early in the season to efficiently build up immunity triggered by the vaccine. It can take up to two weeks to become fully protected from exposure to the illness.

Flu shots are available at Salt Lake County Health Department public health centers and at select clinics and pharmacies statewide.

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