Flu now in Mesa County

An elderly Mesa County resident is the first person to be hospitalized in Colorado with the flu, a case health officials say serves as a reminder for people to get vaccinated.

The resident, who is in his or her 80s, remains hospitalized, Mesa County Health Department spokeswoman Karen Martsolf said Thursday. Although the person may have been traveling out of state during the exposure period, it’s unknown whether he or she contracted the virus in Mesa County or elsewhere.

“With this first confirmed case of influenza in Mesa County, we know the flu is here,” Martsolf said. “If people haven’t already received it, now is a good time to receive that annual flu vaccine.”

Flu season typically begins in October and can run through May, with the peak typically occurring between January and March.

Mesa County’s first hospitalization in relation to the flu during the 2010–11 season occurred in December, and there were 34 hospitalizations and one adult death during that time, Martsolf said.

She said the county began flu surveillance this week. Physicians and hospital emergency departments are asked to report flu-like cases to the Health Department so officials can monitor flu activity and relay that information to the public. She said it’s too early to know how this flu season might compare to recent seasons.

Flu begins with fever, chills and body aches and can be characterized by a dry, hacking cough, sore throat and watery eyes.

Although it’s a respiratory infection, flu can affect the whole body.

On average, people who get the flu spend two days in bed and have another four days of restricted activity. Most recover in one to two weeks.

The incubation period for flu is one to four days. People can pass along the virus to someone else before they know they themselves have it, Martsolf said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend all individuals 6 months and older receive the vaccine. Individuals who are younger than 6 months, may have an egg allergy or have had a severe reaction to the vaccine in previous years shouldn’t be inoculated. Martsolf noted vaccinations help protect not only those who receive them, but those who can’t receive them.

This year’s vaccine protects against the same three strains as last year, including H1N1.


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