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February 5, 2014
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Summit County doctors report decreasing number of flu cases

The flu is most common in January and February, and in Colorado influenza activity remains elevated, though Summit County has reported few hospitalizations so far.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reports that the 2013-14 influenza season peaked during the week ending Jan. 4. From the start of tracking in October, there have been a total of 1,312 reported hospitalizations in 52 counties.

In Summit County, only two influenza-associated hospitalizations have been recorded between Oct. 5, 2013, and Jan. 25, 2014. Both cases were diagnosed as the 2009 H1N1 strain. Pitkin County also recorded two cases, both Type A. However, in places such as Denver or El Paso counties, the numbers are closer to 200 cases.

Dr. Adele Morano, family practitioner at High Country Healthcare in Frisco, said there is still time to get vaccinated.

“We saw a big spike in flu right before and just after the holidays, but no hospitalizations,” she said. “Those affected by flu have been across all age ranges, which is why we recommend the flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older.

Virtually all flu viruses currently circulating in Colorado are the 2009 H1N1 virus, also known as “swine flu,” according to the health department.

Sharon Burnette, group marketing director for the Centura Health area that includes Summit County, said St. Anthony Summit Medical Center has not really seen any greater incidents of the flu than anyone else.

As of Jan. 25, which is the most recent data set available, there have been no flu-associated pediatric deaths. However, the flu recently claimed the life of Veronica Moreno Castillo, 40, of Edwards. She died of H1N1 influenza Dec. 28 at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs.

In Colorado, children younger than 6 months represent 2.7 percent of all hospitalizations, but have the highest hospitalization rate. The 6-to-23-month and 65-plus age groups have the next two highest rates. The 25-to-49 and 50-to-64 age groups account for the largest proportion of hospitalizations, about 55 percent combined.

Dr. Brandon Goble, family practitioner at High Country Healthcare in Silverthorne, said there has been a huge drop-off in cases recently.

“We were seeing three to five patients with the flu on a daily basis for a few weeks just after the holidays, but we just saw our first positive case today out of the last two weeks,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that for the week ending Jan. 25, influenza in Colorado was still widespread. However, the level of influenza-like illness activity overall was low during that time.

“Even though the flu might seem to be waning, it’s still not too late to be vaccinated,” Morano said.


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The Summit Daily Updated Feb 5, 2014 09:02PM Published Feb 6, 2014 01:53PM Copyright 2014 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.