Don’t be fooled by the slow start to this year’s flu season, UCHealth experts say. Coloradans should protect themselves and others now – before flu season peaks.
Statewide, at least 57 people have been hospitalized with influenza so far this season, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which is down considerably from last year when there were at least 210 hospitalizations about this time.
“We are expecting to start seeing more cases of the flu in the coming weeks as people are around more people than usual for holiday shopping, gatherings and travel,” according to Dr. Jean Kutner, chief medical officer at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital. “The absolute best way to protect yourself and others from the flu is to get vaccinated.”
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.
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 this week at all UCHealth clinics and hospitals:
- All visitors with flu-like symptoms will be required to wear a mask in all areas of UCHealth hospitals and clinics.
- Visitors with flu symptoms and visitors younger than 12 years of age are prohibited from visiting these high-risk areas: all intensive care units, transplant locations, oncology inpatient floors and pediatric units.
- Restrictions also apply to other units where intensive-care unit, transplant and oncology patients are being treated.
“The flu should not be taken lightly. It can be deadly,” said Dr. Patricia Gill, an infectious disease physician at UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital in Longmont. “Some of our patients could be especially vulnerable to the flu virus, so it’s important to take measures to prevent the spread of the virus as much as possible in all of our facilities.”
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 degrees 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 as well.
FOR MORE ON THIS YEAR’S FLU SEASON…