Mesa County flu cases increase this season in hospitalizations

Mesa County has seen 32 hospitalized cases of influenza since November, county health officials announced Tuesday.

Nearly all involve the influenza A strain, which is the predominant flu strain throughout the country this season, said Veronica Daehn Harvey, spokeswoman for the Mesa County Health Department.

Last year, there were only 30 hospitalized cases of influenza for the entire flu season, Harvey said. 

Between Dec. 29 and Jan. 4, across the reporting region that includes Colorado, more than 35 percent of the people who visited their doctor with influenza-like symptoms tested positive for the flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The area CDC monitors that includes Colorado is known as Region 8. Region 8 also includes Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

During the same period nationally, 2,622 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations were reported — a rate of 9.7 cases per 100,000 population, the CDC said.

The most affected age groups are children younger than four and elders age 65 and older. However, people ages 18 to 64 account for 61 percent of reported hospitalized cases nation-wide, the CDC said.

A total of 10 influenza-associated pediatric deaths for the 2013-2014 season has been reported so far, the CDC said.

Among all hospitalizations, 2,499 were influenza A, the CDC said.

The current flu vaccine is a good match for the current seasonal influenza strains, Harvey said. 
Influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. 

Officials say high levels of flu activity are likely to continue for several weeks throughout the nation.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness characterized by fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, fatigue, body aches and headaches, Harvey said.

In addition to an annual flu vaccine, other ways to stay healthy include:

■ Frequent hand-washing.

■ Staying home when sick.

■ Exercise and proper diet.

■ Getting enough sleep.

Only cases of patients whose influenza causes them to be hospitalized are reportable to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Harvey said.

In the U.S., influenza season usually begins in October and can last until May.


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