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Three Yellowstone County residents have confirmed cases of influenza, marking the first appearance of the contagious virus in the area this winter.

Two women and a school-age girl have the flu, RiverStone Health reported today. RiverStone houses the county health department.

A person in Deer Lodge County was diagnosed in early December with Montana's first flu case of the 2008-09 season.

Last season, Yellowstone County's first flu case was confirmed Dec. 11, 2007. In all, 613 people had confirmed cases of the flu in 2007-08, with the season peaking in early February.

It is not too late to get a flu shot, health officials said.

The vaccine takes effect about two weeks after it is administered.

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