A baby in El Paso County has become the first person in Colorado to be hospitalized with the flu so far this season. The Child was treated at a hospital and released, according to the Health Department.
The El Paso County Health Department also reports that this is the earliest flu-associated hospitalization in El Paso County since 2005-06.
In October, El Paso County also reported the first laboratory-confirmed flu case in Colorado. It was in a man, who was treated at an outpatient medical facility and has since recovered.
"These first two confirmed influenza cases in El Paso County are strong reminders that the flu bug is circulating in our community and placing citizens at increased risk for flu infections," said El Paso County Health Department Medical Director Bernadette Albanese, M.D., M.P.H.
"A hospitalized infant is of particular concern, since babies less than six months old are not eligible to receive a flu shot but fall under the high-risk category for flu infection. That is why Public Health Officials stress the importance of flu shots for parents and siblings of infants, along with care providers of individuals with weakened immune systems. We expect to see an increasing number of cases over the coming weeks, and the best way for residents to protect themselves and others from this serious and potentially fatal disease is to get vaccinated."
Albanese says we are also seeing the flu earlier this year than we have in years past.
"The last time we saw flu activity in October or November was three or four years ago," Albanese said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there is plenty of flu vaccine nationwide.
Here's some more advice on keeping the flu away:
· Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15 seconds.
· Avoid contact with people who are sick.
· Stay home when you are sick.
The Colorado Influenza and Pneumococcal Alert Coalition (CIPAC) has a toll-free phone line (1-877-462-2911) with current listings of local flu shot clinics, dates and costs.