BOISE, Idaho (AP) — State public health officials are calling the 2012-13 flu season one of the worst in years. The flu season arrived earlier than usual and evidence suggests it's still on the rise. Officials with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare are reporting eight flu-related deaths since October 1. All of those victims have been people older than 50.

Idaho typically has a dozen deaths from flu each year, though 28 influenza deaths were recorded in 2003-04. Deputy State Epidemiologist Leslie Tengelsen says vaccination remains the best protection against the flu. She says this year's vaccine appears to be well matched for the dominant flu virus strains circulating. The agency says medical providers and hospitals across the state are reporting an increase for influenza and respiratory illnesses.