Colorado’s flu epidemic threatening lives and health

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption COVID Health is the country’s most-known flu clinic Colorado is on track to reach the highest total number of hospitalizations for the flu this year as part of…

Colorado's flu epidemic threatening lives and health

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption COVID Health is the country’s most-known flu clinic

Colorado is on track to reach the highest total number of hospitalizations for the flu this year as part of a worsening flu season, the Colorado health department reports.

There were 339 hospitalizations and two deaths so far this season, about a third more than last year’s second quarter.

There were also lower numbers of flu-related deaths and hospitalizations among pregnant women.

There are no numbers yet for how flu cases have fared so far during June, which is usually mild for the state.

More than a dozen outbreaks have occurred in schools and medical facilities since the start of the season.

Officials expect the number of hospitalizations to exceed 10,000 by the end of the flu season, which began in October, and for flu-related deaths to exceed the state’s worst annual total of 24 deaths.

‘Widespread disease’

“This is a data-driven outbreak, and a flu pandemic is not likely to happen in Colorado,” the state’s chief medical officer Dr Larry Wolk said.

“We know that this is a widespread disease, because most of the patients who are infected and the highest incidence of hospitalizations are in the Rocky Mountain region, which includes the Four Corners region where we are, and we’re seeing a significant increase in hospitalisations there.”

Hospitalizations due to flu declined or were unchanged in nearly half of Colorado’s 64 counties, according to the report released Tuesday.

But the southern and western regions have seen a marked increase in rates of hospitalizations and deaths, compared to the second quarter of 2017.

The report lists the state’s best public health priority as strengthening high-risk measures, such as antiviral medications, at risk communities and implementing active immunization programs, such as school-based immunisation programs.

Dozens of vaccines in the market

The report highlights the availability of vaccines to patients with varying ages and economic levels.

More than 50 types of flu vaccine are available in Colorado, with higher-profile strains such as the H3N2 and influenza A (H1N1) showing up in more than half of the local outbreaks, according to the report.

Influenza is responsible for 14% of all deaths among children aged six months to five years in the US, according to CDC data from the 2016-2017 flu season.

Non-flu related pediatric deaths are not an official measure, but CDC data shows flu was the probable cause of 39% of deaths of children aged six months to four years that year.

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