Jan 2, 2014 3:34 PM by David Randall
DENVER (AP) - Health officials warn that Colorado is in the throes of one of the worst flu seasons since 2009, but there is still plenty of vaccine available.
State epidemiologist Lisa Miller said the number of hospitalizations has jumped to 448 this flu season, more than 50 cases higher than this time last year. A large number of those hospitalized are young adults.
"It is concerning, we are seeing a lot of people ill already," Miller said.
Also troubling to doctors is the ages of those affected.
"Typically we see the very highest rates among the very young and very old," said Miller.
This year people aged 25 to 64 make up 57 percent of all cases, a huge increase compared to last year when they only accounted for 30 percent of cases.
This year's strain of flu is similar to the one doctors saw in 2009 when H1N1 first started getting people sick.
"That's when we had our pandemic. We had a lot of illness because that was the first time it had been seen," said Miller.
The World Health Organization estimates that flu causes 3 million to 5 million cases of severe illness around the globe every year. It says about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths result, primarily among the elderly and the chronically ill.
Colorado officials say it is not too late to get a flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control says influenza season can last into May.