Flu season hits stride in Grand County
January 6, 2015
Three people in Grand County were recently hospitalized because of the flu, according to Grand County Public Health officials, and the illness is spreading among all ages throughout the county. Those hospitalized are from three different age brackets, including young, old and in between.
January is often the month when flu outbreaks peak, but the season can run into May. Anecdotally, Middle Park High School students report widespread illnesses among the student population this week.
Statewide, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported 399 additional hospitalizations during the final week of 2014, bringing the statewide cumulative total to nearly 1,300 since the flu season began in late September. The state has also reported two pediatric deaths attributable to the flu this season.
Health officials say this year's predominant flu is the H3N2 variety, which was originally covered in this year's vaccine but has since mutated, making the vaccinations less effective, though it still reduces the severity of symptoms compared with not being vaccinated..
Grand County health officials have released the following information about the flu:
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to hospitalization or death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly and generally lasts about 10 days. People who have the flu often experience some or all of these symptoms:
• Fever (not everyone develops a fever)
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Body aches
• Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting
Because the flu virus can mutate after the vaccine has been developed, flu vaccine may not be effective for all strains of the virus. However, having the flu shot may lessen the symptoms or shorten the length of time that a person is ill. Young children, the elderly and those with chronic health conditions are most susceptible to the flu virus.
If you have symptoms
• Consult your physician if you have underlying medical conditions such as COPD, asthma or an auto-immune disease, which could cause complications or if your symptoms are severe.
• Take precautions to reduce infecting others. If possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; flu virus is airborne.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.
• Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
• It's not too late to get a flu shot.
For more information call Grand County Public Health, 970-725-3288, or visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/.