First flu death reported in Grand County as current flu season is ‘one of the worst’
A particularly insidious flu strain has claimed its first victim in Grand County after a 72-year-old female resident of Granby passed away Monday from complications stemming from Influenza A, the Grand County Public Health Department confirmed on Wednesday.
While the woman was said to have underlying health issues, the county health department stressed that the current flu season is becoming critical. Experts say it has the potential to be one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory and are urging everyone to take the proper precautions.
“It seems to be very bad,” said Wade Walker, pharmacist at City Market Pharmacy in Granby. “This is one of the worst seasons I can remember.”
Walker said he has had hundreds of people over the last few weeks head into the pharmacy with flu symptoms. And the doctor-prescribed medications used to treat the flu, such as Tamiflu, are hard to keep on the shelf.
More than 1,200 people in Colorado have already been hospitalized because of the flu, and the most dangerous strain, Influenza A subtype H3N2, appears to be more troublesome for elderly individuals, according to the health department.
“This particular part of the virus, H3N2, seems to be hitting the elderly more frequently than anybody else right now,” said Brene Belew-LaDue, director of the Grand County Public Health Department. “Flu is always a concern. It does cause a lot of hospitalizations, serious complications and even death.”
Belew-LaDue recommended seniors get a flu shot in hopes of preventing serious symptoms.
While flu shots are one of the most common ways to prevent contracting the illness, one of the problems is that the current shot isn’t particularly effective, according to Walker.
“Most years you get about 60 to 70 percent effectiveness, and last year’s was somewhere around 70 percent,” he said. “This year they’re saying it’s less than 50. Flu shots are just a guess about what they think is going to happen that year and, unfortunately, they missed the mark this year.”
Flu prevention is key
Despite issues with the flu shot, the county health department still suggests that anyone who hasn’t already gotten a shot should get one, as well as taking other precautions to prevent the spread of the disease.
The department recommends avoiding contact with people showing symptoms, staying home if you feel sick, always covering your coughs and sneezes, washing your hands frequently and properly and taking anti-viral drugs as quickly as possible if diagnosed.
“I would stress prevention and the shot,” said Belew-LaDue. “It doesn’t just protect you, but the people around you that you’re interacting with. It protects those people that really are more vulnerable.”
Know the symptoms
Flu symptoms typically appear abruptly and include fevers, chills, muscle aches, fatigue and weakness, a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, chest pains and coughs.
There are also more severe symptoms for people with different risk factors that should seek immediate assistance.
Children experiencing trouble breathing, bluish skin color, not waking up or interacting, extreme irritability, fevers with a rash or flu-like symptoms improving and returning worse should seek help. Infants unable to eat, having trouble breathing, crying without tears or having significantly fewer wet diapers than usual should seek immediate help.
Adults facing difficulty breathing, pain in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion and persistent vomiting should also seek immediate assistance.
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