The flu season is kicking in earlier this year, and UCHealth is urging Coloradans to protect themselves.
Statewide, at least 210 patients have been hospitalized with influenza so far this season. That’s more than triple the 62 patients who had been hospitalized by this time last year, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
“The absolute best way to protect yourself and others from the flu is to get vaccinated,” according to Dr. Jean Kutner, chief medical officer at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora. In addition, people should wash their hands frequently, cover their coughs and sneezes and encourage others to do so as well, she said. And if you do get sick, stay home, she added.
More information on the flu
UCHealth is taking extra precautions at its facilities across the state to protect patients and limit the spread of the flu virus.
The following annual visitor restrictions went into effect Dec. 1 at all UCHealth clinics and hospitals:
- All visitors with flu-like symptoms will be required to wear a mask in all areas of the hospitals and clinics.
- Visitors with flu symptoms and visitors under 12 years of age are prohibited from visiting these high-risk areas: intensive care units, transplant locations, oncology inpatient floors and pediatric units.
- Restrictions also apply to some units like the post-anesthesia care unit and bone marrow transplant treatment areas where intensive-care unit, transplant and oncology patients are being treated.
“The flu can be a deadly disease, especially for our sickest patients,” said UCHealth infection preventionist Emily Thorp. “So, as the number of flu cases begin to rise, it’s important to limit transmission of the virus as much as possible.”
The most vulnerable, in a normal flu season, are the very young and the very old. Also at risk are those with already compromised health situations, such as diabetes, heart disease or pregnancy. However, every so often, a strain comes around that hits healthy young people hardest.
Flu symptoms include a dry, hacking cough, moderate to high fever (101 or higher), sore throat, shaking chills, severe muscle and body aches and a serious headache. A person also can have severe fatigue, runny nose, upper respiratory symptoms and sometimes, mostly in children, nausea and vomiting. Adults most often experience a loss of appetite.