Flu levels currently low for Summit | SummitDaily.com

Flu levels currently low for Summit

by Kathryn Corazzelli
summit daily news

It’s that time of year: Sniffles, coughs and sneezes can be heard all around Summit County. While reports of flu here in the High Country are currently at a low level, health officials warn locals to take care of themselves and watch out for other illnesses making the rounds.

Michelle Wilson, community nursing manager for Summit County Public Health, said current flu levels in Summit County are low, but doctors have been seeing a lot of “strong” colds and abdominal illnesses. She said abdominal illnesses generally start in children, and have a 100 percent attack rate moving through families. Wilson said numerous parents and child care centers have recently reported children sick with GI symptoms.

To prevent illness, Wilson recommends frequent handwashing, drinking plenty of fluids and staying home if exhibiting any symptoms of illness.

Influenza levels are currently low for Summit County, but Wilson warns that doesn’t mean we’re in the clear. She recommends everyone receive a flu shot. Safeway, City Market, Target and Walgreens all provide flu shots – in addition to most doctor’s offices.

“Flu season lasts from Sept. to May, so we could still see a spike,” she said.

Michaela Halcomb, infection preventionist at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center, said Summit County’s flu levels are consistent with the rest of the country. A few cases of Influenza types A and B – the two most common – have been seen so far.

“We’re seeing a slow uptick in cases,” she said.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines the flu as “a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.” The CDC’s website says it can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.

“Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk,” the CDC’s website says. “These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or nose.”

Halcomb said the best way to prevent the spread of illness is to “practice good cough etiquette.” She recommends covering the mouth with a tissue during a cough or sneeze, and washing hands afterwards. If a tissue is unavailable, she said the crook of the arm should be used.

Halcomb said “high-touch surfaces,” such as door knobs, computers or counters should be sanitized. She said good hand hygiene should be practiced, and grocery shoppers should take advantage of alcohol wipes provided by stores before touching cart handles.

If the flu is contracted, Halcomb said people should see a doctor as soon as possible. Antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu, can shorten the duration of illness if used right away.

“If people think they have the flu, they should get treated within a couple of days,” she said.

Currently, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reports the highest flu positivity rates in the Denver metro area, El Paso County and Larimer County. The highest rates of illness were seen in ages 0-4 and 65 plus.

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