Flu cases escalate, likely to get worse

Like the fever that often accompanies them, flu cases in Colorado and Mesa County spiked during the holidays, and health officials say the peak season for the illness is likely yet to come.

Four Mesa County residents were hospitalized with the flu during the week of Dec. 23-29, the dates for which the most recent data were available, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Those four cases accounted for nearly half of the flu-related hospitalizations locally during the current flu season, which started in October.

Overall, nine county residents and 373 people statewide had been hospitalized as of Dec. 29.

A report issued by the state indicates flu cases reported to Mesa County clinics and doctor’s offices have quadrupled.

Of all illnesses treated by physicians who report to the state, influenza-like illness increased from 0.5 percent to 2 percent. Most of that activity was evenly split between patients under the age of 4 and patients between the ages of 5 and 24.

The most common strain of flu among hospitalized patients in Colorado tested for influenza so far this year has been Type B.

The peak month for flu activity has come after December in 80 percent of flu seasons since 1982-83, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

February has been the worst month for flu activity nationwide for 14 of the last 30 flu seasons.

Flu symptoms include fever, chills, body aches, sore throat, watery eyes and a dry, hacking cough.

Senior citizens and people with certain diseases are at heightened risk for complications from the flu, such as ear or sinus infections, pneumonia and bronchitis.

Health officials continue to encourage the public to get vaccinated.


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