The flu has arrived |

The flu has arrived

Carrie Click
Post Independent Staff

Like an unwelcome houseguest, the flu has arrived in western Colorado ” and it’s not going away anytime soon.

For the first time this season, flu cases have been reported on the Western Slope. Regionally last week, five cases were reported in Eagle County, four cases in Garfield County and six cases in Pitkin County.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Front Range is still leading the count in the number of flu cases. Last week’s count as of Nov. 15 was 142 cases in Denver County alone.

Other Front Range counties with a high incidence of flu included 98 cases each in Adams and Arapahoe counties, 96 cases in Jefferson County, 86 cases in Larimer County and 64 in Boulder County.

So far, 226 cases of the flu have been reported in Colorado this year.

“Those numbers can be misleading,” said public health nurse Laurel Little of Garfield County Nursing. “There are likely many more cases than what’s officially documented because the state only reports flu in people who have received a diagnostic test.”

Little said Wednesday the incidents of flu cases are increasing faster than this time last year.

“We’re seeing more cases earlier,” said Little. “It’s impossible to say when it will peak, but usually it peaks in February and March. Because of these early cases, we’ll likely see that peak much earlier this winter.”

Influenza is a serious disease that causes 36,000 deaths (mostly among those aged 65 years or older) and sends 114,000 people in the United States to the hospital each year. Flu season typically runs from November through April.

As flu season descends on Colorado, Roberta Smith, coordinator of the Colorado Influenza Coalition, said it’s important people understand what the flu is ” and what it isn’t.

“The flu is a respiratory illness,” said Smith. “There is no such thing as the stomach flu, yet many people think that if they have an upset stomach, they have the flu.”

Smith said the most common symptoms of the flu are a fever of 102 degrees to 104 degrees that usually lasts three to four days, headache, sore throat, muscle aches and coughing.

“Many of these symptoms may become quite severe,” Smith added. “And if you do get the flu, it’s a good idea to stay home as the flu is very contagious.”

Kris Daler, public information officer for Grand River Medical Center, said the medical center held vaccination clinics earlier this fall. She said besides getting a flu shot, there’s another preventative way to help avoid the flu.

“Wash your hands,” Daler said. “We keep hearing that one of the No. 1 things to keep yourself well is frequent hand-washing.”

Although many hospitals and medical centers scheduled flu vaccination clinics earlier in the fall, Little said it’s not too late to get a flu shot.

“We’re offering vaccines for $15 at Garfield County Nursing in both Glenwood and Rifle,” LIttle said. Other public health offices and clinics are offering vaccines, as well as doctor’s offices.

Little said it’s important not to wait until symptoms appear to get a shot.

“The flu vaccine is preventative,” Little said. “It takes about two weeks to take effect.”

Getting a flu shot isn’t a 100 percent guarantee against getting the flu. Little said that a new strain of flu this year is making the illness a bit more difficult to battle.

“The vaccine contains two Type As and one Type B,” she said of the types of virus in the flu vaccination. “But since last year, one of the Type A strains has mutated, which means the vaccine is not an exact match to that specific strain.”

Still, Little said it’s better to get a vaccine than to risk getting the flu.

“People 50 years of age and older should get a flu shot,” Little said. “Also children with chronic medical conditions, such as bronchitis, asthma and heart problems, should be vaccinated. We encourage anyone who would like to not get the flu to get vaccinated.”

When asked if Little had received her flu shot this year, she responded quickly.

“Oh yes,” she said. “Every year.”

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

– El Jebel

Eagle County Health and Human

Services, 0020 Eagle County Drive,


A flu clinic will be held 2-5 p.m. this

Friday; flu vaccines given from 1-4 p.m. Mondays.

– Glenwood Springs

Garfield County Public Nursing,

2014 Blake Ave., 945-6614

Glenwood Medical Associates, 3830 Blake Ave., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays

– New Castle

New Castle Family Health, 820 Castle

Valley Blvd., Suite 210, 984-0651,

8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

– Rifle

Garfield County Public Nursing,

902 Taugenbaugh Blvd., Suite 104,

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

– Cost is $15 for the vaccine. Medicaid and Medicare are generally accepted. Call ahead for information and an appointment.

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