THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Colorado experiencing alarming prevalence of influenza infections

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced on Tuesday that the prevalence of influenza infections this year is alarming and is asking the public to get vaccinated against the virus now.

Colorado state officials said there is still time to get vaccinated and protected against the influenza virus, which is causing more hospitalizations and infections among young adults than last year. The number of flu-associated hospitalizations this year is 448, higher than last year's count of 373 at this time in 2012.

The majority of infections, 54 percent, are occurring in people between the ages of 25 and 64, which is atypical. Influenza usually most severely affects children and the elderly.

"The surge in hospitalizations due to flu is concerning," Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment State Epidemiologist Dr. Lisa Miller said. "We normally see higher flu numbers among the young and elderly, but this year there are more cases among people ages 25 to 64. We encourage anyone who hasn't been immunized this year to get a flu vaccination now."

The CDPHE is also asking the public to mind its hygiene to help prevent infection, including the frequent washing of hands, covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, sneezing into the elbow instead of the bare hand, staying away from persons with known infection and isolating oneself if infection occurs.

Public health officials recommended people get vaccinated now to protect themselves against infection. The flu vaccine protects the body against infection roughly two weeks after vaccination.