Though Mesa County hospitalization numbers have shown a mild flu season thus far, public health officials think it’s still too early to start celebrating.

According to Andy Tyler, Mesa County Public Health regional epidemiologist, with 56 influenza-associated hospitalizations this season, the numbers are similar to what they were last year.

“We were at 54 this time last year and finished with around 100 hospitalizations by the end of February,” he said. “It can pick up pretty quickly and is something we monitor across the region and Western Slope.”

There were a total of 117 hospitalizations during last year’s flu season.

The year before, there were 232 hospitalizations reported, and 168 hospitalizations occurred in the 2016-2017 flu season.

February tends to be the peak month for the flu, Tyler added.

Last year, Mesa County entered February with a hospitalization rate of 3.3 per 100,000. That number jumped to 9.8 in the first and second week, 12.4 in the third week of the month, and ended at 8.5 before a mild March ended the season.

“February over the past 15 years has been the peak for hospitalizations,” Tyler said. “We’re still in the middle of flu season right now.”

For a comprehensive look at Mesa County’s flu numbers visit: https://health.mesacounty.us/flu-meter/

While the timing of hospitalizations can be an important factor for health officials to consider, so can location.

“There hasn’t been one county hit too hard,” explained Tyler. “We haven’t had a county experience a mass hospitalization this year.”

Mesa County’s hospitalization rate (29.3 per 100,000) compares similarly with the rest of the area, with Garfield County’s rate at 30.0 per 100,000 and Montrose County’s at 31.2.

“There’s been a constant stream of hospitalization, but nothing that’s been too overwhelming for one county,” Tyler said. “It’s something we continue to monitor.”

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