First flu-related death reported as hospitalizations increase

PUEBLO, Colo. — A woman has died from the flu in Pueblo County, health officials said Tuesday. She appears to be the first death in Colorado for a flu season that is already worse than in years past.

According to the Colorado Health Department, there were 52 cases of people being hospitalized with the flu as of December 1. That number is more than five times higher than in years past, said spokesman Mark Salley.

However, cases continue to increase and in the last week alone the total has risen to 101, Salley said.

The Pueblo victim is a middle-aged woman, county health officials said. She was the first person of the season to be hospitalized with influenza in Pueblo County.

“My heart goes out to the family and friends, it’s a tragedy that such a young woman would pass away from flu and it’s complications.” stated Dr. Christine Nevin-Woods public health director at the Pueblo City-County Health Department.

Health officials recommend everyone over six months of age get flu shots. Most people who get the flu do not have severe complications but flu can be unpredictable and strike suddenly.

Flu season arrived in Colorado about a month earlier than normal. About 100 cases have been reported statewide.

Some people are at higher risk for complications from flu. These include:

Asthma patients
People with diabetes
Cancer patients
Pregnant women
Children younger than five
Adults 65 and older

“When you experience symptoms of the flu stay home until 24-hours after your fever is gone, without the help of fever reducing medicines,” encouraged Dr. Nevin-Woods. This limits the spread of the virus.

Symptoms of the flu start suddenly and may include:

Fever (usually high)
Cough and/or sore throat
Runny or stuffy nose
Headache and/or body aches
Tiredness (can be extreme)
Chills and fatigue
Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children)
Breathing problems

Take three steps to prevent the flu:

Get your flu vaccine.
Take everyday actions to stop the spread of germs. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands with soap and water frequently and do not go to work or school if you have flu symptoms.
Know flu symptoms which are listed above.