Jan 2, 2014 10:45 PM by Tony Spehar - firstname.lastname@example.org
The number of flu cases is on the rise across Colorado, beginning what health officials say could be one of the worst flu seasons in years.
Statewide 448 people have been hospitalized for influenza. In El Paso County 84 people have been hospitalized, compared to 41 people at this time last year. Just in the last week 18 people have been hospitalized with the flu in Pueblo County.
"To have suddenly that many cases is worrisome to me," explained Pueblo City-County Public Health Director Dr. Chris Nevin-Woods. "If we continue to have this type of a flu season we're going to see more and more people get sick, feel horrible, have to stay home from work at the very least and others that will have to be hospitalized and may even be on ventilators and critically ill."
Dr. Nevin-Woods said this flu season is starting unusually early and is unique in that, so far, the majority of people sick are between the ages of 25 to 64. Also concerning is that almost all of the patients with the flu in Pueblo County are suffering from the 2009 H1N1 virus which can be prevented by this year's vaccine.
"We haven't had a death and we're hoping that we won't," she explained. "Most of these people, even though they were high risk, they weren't vaccinated."
Health officials are urging everyone to be sure to get a flu shot as soon as possible.
"I did get a flu shot, I work for Pueblo County and they had a thing where we all got flu shots," said Pueblo resident Rick Mattoon.
Anyone feeling symptoms of the flu such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, aches and chills is asked to stay home until at least 24-hours after their fever has passed to avoid spreading the flu.
"I got my vaccine in October," said Kat Schmidt, who also got her kids vaccinated. "Kids carry germs; you know they're not the cleanest things, so it's just easier."
The Pueblo City-County Health Department offers flu shots to those without health insurance, more information on their vaccine clinics can be found at http://county.pueblo.org/government/county/department/city-county-health-department/immunizations