For now, no flu epidemic in Gunnison County area
Written by Mark Reaman   
Wednesday, 23 January 2013
Take the right precautions...

There is a nasty illness going around Crested Butte and Gunnison but it’s not necessarily the flu. Local healthcare providers have seen some instances of the flu but there is another respiratory virus that is putting people down as well. It is crud season, after all.

 

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“We have heard of situations where people are on the couch with aches and pains, fever, and general misery but that doesn’t mean it’s the flu. There is another virus going around, too. So far, we think it has been a relatively easy flu season,” explained Gunnison County Public Health director Carol Worrall. ”In surveying health care providers, they have seen some flu and it might be increasing a bit but there hasn’t been a huge influx that they’ve experienced in different years.”
Thus far, no one in Gunnison County has been hospitalized because of the flu. In Colorado, 674 cases have been confirmed from 36 counties with people hospitalized from the flu. Four pediatric deaths in the state have been attributed to the illness.
Worrall does expect that some people will end up in the Gunnison Valley Hospital as a result of the flu sometime this winter. “Every year we get a few people who require a hospital stay. It’s not unusual,” she said.
Worrall said every season is different when it comes to the flu. Last year was mild. The year before that was moderate. But in 2009-10 it raged to pandemic levels, reaching many parts of the world. “It was very widespread three years ago,” she said. “Flu generally spikes in the winter because everyone is huddled inside. You tend to share respiratory illnesses then.”
It is estimated that about 30 percent of Gunnison County residents have received the flu vaccine. Worrall said that is one of the best things anyone can do to prevent getting the illness. The common sense measures such as washing your hands frequently, covering coughs, staying home until you are well, all help prevent the spread of the flu.
“We ask employers to be lenient with absenteeism when it comes to workers who are home with the flu,” said Worrall. “If they come back too soon, it can help spread the flu quickly.”
Worrall’s recommendation is that if you are heading to Denver anytime soon, you should get a flu shot.
“While the vaccine is a good match with the flu viruses causing illness, local supplies fluctuate and we recommend that if you are traveling out of town and see signs for flu shots available in larger communities, you take advantage of this. Places like Safeway and Walgreen’s still have a supply and are offering flu shots,” she said. “As for the county health department, we are out of adult vaccines but still have some for children between the ages of six months and 18 years old.”
The flu and the crud have been seen in people from all over the county. There is no spike in any particular part of the county. But the health department will start looking at school absenteeism to get a handle on where flu cases might spike this winter.
Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. Prompt treatment with antiviral medication, especially for those who are at high risk of complications from flu, such as young children or older people, is also advised.