Colorado

Jan 9, 2014 10:32 PM by Tony Spehar - tspehar@koaa.com

Flu cases increasing locally and statewide

The number of flu cases locally and across Colorado continues to rise as medical officials urge those who haven't had a flu vaccine to get one as soon as possible.

As of Jan. 4 across the state 748 people have been hospitalized because of flu symptoms. Since their first case in October Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs has had 80 people hospitalized so far, at this time last year they had 35. The people affected continue to be mostly middle-aged people, which is a group usually considered low risk.

"Usually the general thinking is that middle aged, younger adults can be healthier," explained Dr. Sean Donahue, who works in Memorial's Emergency Room. "But this year has been interesting in that a lot of sicker people have been the younger healthier people."

Because of the ages of those being affected and because of how quickly sickness can spread in classrooms University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) medical staff have been trying to get the message out about how important it is for students to be vaccinated. Almost all of the cases of flu in Colorado have been confirmed to be the H1N1 strain that is covered by this year's vaccine.

"Students tend to think that either they won't get it or they haven't had it yet so they haven't experience how bad it can be," described Stephanie Hanenberg, Executive Director of Health Services at UCCS. "So once they get it, they tend to come in volume for the flu shot."

Everyone is asked to be dilligent about getting vaccinated, washing their hands and staying home if they have a fever and flu symptoms.

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