Flu hospitalizations way up in Colorado, but infections haven’t spiked in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Flu hospitalizations way up in Colorado, but infections haven’t spiked in Steamboat

Health officials say it's not too late to get a flu shot.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — While the state of Colorado is currently seeing a big spike in flu hospitalizations, hospital officials in Steamboat Springs aren't seeing anything concerning so far.

"Our hospital (influenza) rate here for both inpatient and outpatient is very similar to what it was last year at this time," said Paul Hill, laboratory section head and infection prevention coordinator at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center.

"We have had two hospitalizations from influenzas, and they've been visitors from out of state, which again, is not uncommon for our area."

The Denver Post reported last week 566 people had been hospitalized with influenza in the state so far this flu season.

The Post reported the state typically has just 150 cases logged at this early point in the flu season.

Health officials speculated that the uptick could be due to a more severe flu season in the southern hemisphere coupled with international travel.

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Here in Steamboat, Hill did caution that the Yampa Valley usually sees its flu rate go up during the holiday season, when thousands of visitors fly in from around the world and country, some of them inevitably with contagious bugs.

Hill pointed to a map from the Centers for Disease Control that showed influenza has not yet entered its active season.

But the data tends to lag behind, he said, meaning things could change rapidly.

Hill said there are four key things residents and visitors can do to help protect themselves from the flu and prevent it from spreading to others.

They include good handwashing and  cough etiquette, staying home from work when sick and getting a flu vaccine.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.