The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment held a news conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss the flu outbreak in our state. As of today, the number of people sick with the flu in Colorado stands at 9,957. In El Paso County, 213 cases of flu have been reported so far this year. There have been 96 cases in Pueblo County.
Health officials say this flu outbreak is the worst in six years. Of those who have contracted the flu, four of them were children who died from the virus. The children were aged 15, 8, 2 and 21-months. Two of those had previous medical conditions. The other two children were healthy until they came down with the flu.
So many children are sick, the statewide school absentee rate hit 7-percent this week.
Health officials suspect the number of those with the flu is much higher because many adults with the flu don't see their doctor for treatment. Medical experts say a flu shot will help, but that it takes two weeks for the shot to be effective.
Doctors say there are some simple steps to help avoid the flu. People should wash their hands regularly with soap and water, avoid touching your eye, nose and mouth and if possible, avoid contact with sick people.
Here is some advice from Dr. Ned Calonge with the Colorado Department of Health:
"There are a few other things to kind of keep in mind that we'd like to urge parents to do in this extraordinary flu season. If your child is ill with symptoms of flu and cold, please keep them home from school, daycare or pre-school. In doing that, first of all, you can
provide them better care at home, and you also help protect the kids in those other settings, and help us stop the spread of flu and colds.”
"Our best defense to date is still the influenza vaccine. We recognize that the flu strains circulating in Texas have shown a little drift from the vaccine components that are currently in use. There is still some cross-protection of the flu vaccine. I will warn
people that it takes two weeks to work. So it takes a while to build up your immunity, but we're still looking at a couple months of the flu season, and if you can limit your exposure during the rest of the season, it will be an effective approach.”
"We have been studying influenza for decades, and what we've realized over the time is that we're not very good at knowing where it's going to hit, when it's going to hit, and how severe it's going to hit.”
For more information on the flu outbreak, go online to the Colorado Department of Health’s website: Click Here