Pueblo County hospitals experience overload in number of flu ill - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Pueblo County hospitals experience overload in number of flu illnesses

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Pueblo County hospitals are experiencing an overwhelming number of flu cases this flu season.

Public Health Officials in Pueblo explain the importance of knowing flu symptoms and when to go to the hospital for treatment. Local hospitals report an overload of flu-like illnesses resulting in people with less severe symptoms not being admitted for care. 

“This flu season has presented an increased number of patients who are more severely sick than we have witnessed in recent years,” said Jennifer Chrisman, RN, MSN, interim CNO. “St. Mary-Corwin has seen upward of 15 patients a day over the past few weeks that have presented with severe flu symptoms and we remain laser-focused on ensuring that these patients are carefully observed and receive the best possible care.” 

According to Pueblo County, milder influenza cases, may make people feel terrible, but do not require emergency services. This also runs the risk of infecting others and complicating emergency department's admissions process.

“Most patients with influenza can be treated at home. Patients should only come to the emergency room if they are experiencing emergency warning signs of flu sickness,” said Dr. Tom Greidanus of Southern Colorado Emergency Medical Associates and an ER physician at Parkview Medical Center. “We have been sending home the majority of patients with influenza, because they are mildly ill. Of those patients admitted with influenza, many are critically ill, and in an intensive care unit in isolation for influenza with some on ventilators.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, here are emergency warning signs for flu:

In children

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:

  • Being unable to eat
  • Has trouble breathing
  • Has no tears when crying
  • Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal

In adults

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Symptoms of the flu may start suddenly and include:

  • Fever (usually high)
  • Headache
  • Tiredness (can be extreme)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Chills and fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)

“When you are sick, first steps are usually to contact your doctor or visit urgent care. The public needs to know the difference between a cold and the flu,” stated Lynn Procell, division director at the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment.

St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center and St. Thomas More Hospital medical officer Dr. Kern Low, stresses the importance of taking the proper measures in flu prevention. This includes good hygiene and going to your medical provider if you experience any of the above symptoms. 

Here are three tips to prevent the flu:

  1. Get your flu vaccine. Visit your doctor or pharmacist to get the latest flu vaccine
  2. Take everyday actions to stop the spread of germs. Cough or sneeze into a tissue or a sleeve. Wash your hands frequently (with soap and water for at least 20 seconds). Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  3. Stay home if you are sick with flu symptoms. Stay home (and keep children home) when you are sick for at least 24 hours after fever ends. Take anti-viral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

Health officials still recommend getting the flu shot although it hasn't shown as much effectiveness as past years. It is available in Pueblo, the Health Department offers the vaccine to children and adults uninsured by appointment, just call (719) 583-4830.

Flu Season                          Hospitalized Flu Cases in Pueblo

  • 2017-2018                          119 (as of January 10, 2018)
  • 2016-2017                            173
  • 2015-2016                            72
  • 2014-2015                            145
  • 2013-2014                            75
  • 2012-2013                            32

For additional information on the flu visit: http://cdc.gov/flu/takingcare or http://pueblohealthdept.org.

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