Thu January 10, 2013

Flu Comes Early to Colorado

Like the rest of the nation, the flu has arrived early this season in Colorado. Since October, about 500 people across the state have been hospitalized—about 80 of which were in Weld and Larimer counties. Typically the flu season peaks in late January or February.

Dr. Brienne Loy with Family Health Care of the Rockies in Fort Collins says she’s also seen a rise in more flu-related emergency room visits this season.

“Symptoms can vary anywhere from cold symptoms, fevers, generalized aches and pains up to gastrointestinal symptoms with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The elderly tend to be more affected by the gastrointestinal symptoms and can get dehydrated,” she says. “Even with cold symptoms, oral hydration is very important early on.”

The elderly, young children, pregnant women and people with certain heart of lung conditions are at risk for getting much sicker compared to the average adult. The anti-viral drug Tamiflu can ease symptoms if taken within the first 1-2 days of the illness.

Meantime, health officials are urging everyone to get a flu shot. According a recent NPR report, people who take the vaccine can still get sick. It’s about 60 percent effective.

While health provider Kaiser Permanente is reporting a shortage of flu shots in Colorado, University of Colorado Health says supplies are holding steady at its Northern Colorado facilities in Greeley, Windsor, Loveland and Fort Collins.