Flu may be serious; shots recommended

RBC I Most flu cases this year in Colorado have been caused by the influenza A (H3N2) virus, which can cause a more severe flu season with more hospitalizations. Reported influenza hospitalizations and outbreaks in long-term care facilities in Colorado have recently increased. Immunization is the best protection, so get your flu vaccine now.
“We tend to have more severe seasons when H3N2 viruses predominate,” said Dr. Lisa Miller, state epidemiologist at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“Unfortunately, about half of the H3N2 virus circulating now are different from the H3N2 virus included in this season’s flu vaccine,” said Dr. Miller. “Because they are different, we are concerned protection from the flu vaccine may be reduced. However, vaccination still is the best way to protect against the flu.”
During past seasons, there have been more hospitalizations and deaths when the H3N2 flu virus has predominated, particularly among older people, very young children and people with certain chronic medical conditions.
As of Nov. 29, 95 people from 17 counties in Colorado have been hospitalized because of flu. If you get flu-like illness and are at high risk for influenza complications (younger than two years old or over age 65, or with chronic medical conditions), call your doctor to determine if treatment with antiviral medications is needed.
Early antiviral treatment can shorten the duration of fever and illness, reduce the risk of complications and reduce the risk of death among hospitalized patients.
To reduce spread of the flu, the health department encourages everyday actions such as covering your cough and sneezes, staying away from sick people and washing your hands often. If you’re sick, stay home from work or school so you don’t spread the virus to others.
Colorado’s weekly flu report is available at www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/influenza-data