Flu Tracker

The State of Colorado keeps track of Coloradans hospitalized for the flu each flu season. News5 has compiled those numbers since the start of flu season (October 5, 2013) through the most recent reporting period (February 1, 2014). We will update this tracker each time the state updates their report, once a week. The map below breaks down those numbers by county as well as flu type. The active flu types for the 2013-2014 flu season, that the State of Colorado tracks, are type A, type B, type H3, and the 2009 H1N1 strain. The map is color coded based on flu hospitalizations per 100,000 people. Click on a county to see the number of hospitalizations and a breakdown of specific flu strains.

 

 

The CDC has the following advice for preventing the flu:

Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
Practice good health habits. Get plenty of sleep and exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy food.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
The CDC also recommends that everyone above the age of 6 months get a flu shot.

The graph below breaks down the breakdown of the two most common flu types this season (2009 H1N1 and Type A) compared to the total number of flu hospitalizations this season.  This graph compares the counties with the 10 highest total flu hospitalizations.

Flu Information

The physicians and staff at Penrose-St. Francis Primary Care want you to have as much information as possible to protect you and your family during the 2014 flu season. The leading source of information is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Below is some important information from the CDC related to influenza (flu).

Influenza Symptoms
Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually
comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

• Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
• Cough
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle or body aches
• Headaches
• Fatigue (tiredness)
• Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
* It's important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

Flu Complications
Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu, some of which can be life-
threatening and result in death.
Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks
while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.

People at Higher Risk from Flu
Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to flu can happen at any age, but some people are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick.  This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children.

What is the difference between a cold and the flu?
The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar flu-like symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense. Colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.

How can you tell the difference between a cold and the flu?

Because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult (or even impossible) to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Special tests that usually must be done within the first few days of illness can be carried out, when needed to tell if a person has the flu.

What are the symptoms of the flu versus the symptoms of a cold?
In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense. Colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.

What kinds of flu tests are there?
A number of flu tests are available to detect influenza viruses. The most common are called "rapid influenza diagnostic tests." These tests can provide results in 30 minutes or less. Unfortunately, the ability of these tests to detect the flu can vary greatly. Therefore, you could still have the flu, even though your rapid test result is negative. In addition to rapid tests, there are several more accurate and sensitive flu tests available that must be performed in specialized laboratories, such as those found in hospitals or state public health laboratories. All of these tests require that a health care provider swipe the inside ofyour nose or the back of your throat with a swab and then send the swab for testing. These tests do not require a blood sample.

Will my health care provider test me for flu if I have flu-like symptoms?
Not necessarily. Most people with flu symptoms do not require testing because the test results usually do not change how you are treated.
Preventing the Flu
CDC urges you to take the following actions to protect yourself and others from influenza (the flu):
Take time to get a flu vaccine.

• CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
• Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine as soon as the current season's vaccines are available.
• Vaccination of high risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.
• People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years
and older.
• Vaccination also is important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for high risk people to keep from spreading flu to high risk people.
• Children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for them should be vaccinated instead.
Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.
• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be
gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
• While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.
• If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can treat your illness.
• Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter.
• Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For people with high risk factors, treatment with an antiviral drug can
mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.• Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high-risk health or is very sick from the flu. Follow your doctor's instructions for taking this drug.