1:12pm

Sat January 26, 2013
Health

Flu Declining-But Not In Colorado

Flu cases may be leveling off nationwide, but they remain high in Colorado.

Nationwide Flu Activity Map
Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says flu activity is declining in most regions but still rising in the West. The government figures say that hospitalizations and deaths spiked last week, especially among the elderly.

The season's first flu case resistant to treatment with Tamiflu was reported Friday.

As a result, officials are urging the elderly to do whatever they can to avoid coming into contact with the flu. For example, they are urging grandparents to avoid caring for grandchildren who are sick and to seek immediate medical attention if they think they may be sick.

More than 5,000 people have been hospitalized because of the flu so far this year, the CDC says, and about half of those hospitalized have been elderly.

The flu started earliest in the South and Southeast and Tennessee is now reporting only regional activity. The drop in laboratory-confirmed flu samples reported a week earlier has continued, along with the percentage of people going to the doctor for flu-like illness, the CDC says.

Officials have been warning that this year's season could be unusually nasty. That's because it started about a month early and because the main flu virus strain that's circulating is a so-called H3N2 strain. In past years H3N2 strains have made more people sick and killed more people than usual. But officials stress that it's too early to know how bad this year's season may end up being. That's because it started early it could end up ending early as well.

Health officials are still urging people to get a flu shot, stressing that it takes about two weeks for the vaccine's protection to kick in. This year's vaccine appears to be about 62 percent effective, making it about as effective as usual.

The flu vaccine is still available, though it may be hard to find. Last week the University of Colorado at Boulder announced it had run out. The CDC has a website that can help you locate the vaccine.

You can look at each state's flu activity level here.

How to Keep From Getting the Flu

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you or your child gets sick with a respiratory illness, like flu, limit contact with others as much as possible to help prevent spreading illness. Stay home (or keep your child home) for at least 24 hours after fever is gone except to seek medical care or for other necessities. Fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. This will block the spread of droplets from your mouth or nose that could contain germs.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.