Flu on the rise in Larimer County

By Surveyor Staff

This year’s flu season is taking off in Larimer County and across the state. So far this season 26 county residents have been hospitalized with influenza; 21 of them in the past 10 days. Visits to physician offices for respiratory symptoms are also increasing.

So far this season the predominant type of influenza is A(H3N2), which is likely to be more severe in older adults. The average age of local residents hospitalized is 58; the median age is 65.  Six nursing homes/assisted living facilities in Larimer County have been affected. Some hospital systems have implemented restrictions on visitors.

Dr. Adrienne LeBailly, Larimer County Health Director, stressed that even though most influenza cases are occurring in older persons, people of any age can still get very ill from it – especially if they have health conditions that put them at risk for flu complications. That’s why she recommends flu shots for anyone over 6 months old. The component in this year’s vaccine against the A(H3N2) flu has changed from prior years’ vaccines and should provide better protection against it. The last time this flu type predominated in the community was during the 2014-2015 flu season, when the vaccine was a poor match for the circulating virus. During that season, both Larimer County and the entire state had the highest flu hospitalization rates reported since reporting began in 2004.

Influenza is a respiratory disease and is not to be confused with so-called “stomach flu” (gastroenteritis). Flu cases are expected to increase with the cold weather. The Health Department recommends those who have not yet had a flu vaccination get one soon, because it takes about two weeks to provide protection.The vaccine is especially important for pregnant women and people with chronic diseases.

Vaccination is the best way to help prevent the flu, and this year’s vaccine is expected to be a good match for the current flu virus. But it’s also very important to wash hands often, cover coughs and sneezes, and stay home when you are sick to avoid spreading flu in schools and the workplace.

For more information on flu and flu vaccination, see http://www.cdc.gov/flu.  For information on Health Department immunization clinics, see www.larimer.org/health.