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Pueblo reports first flu hospitalization of season

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PUEBLO, Colo. – Health officials in Pueblo announced the first case of a person being hospitalized with the flu Thursday.

The patient is a middle-aged woman, said Sarah Joseph of the Pueblo city health department.

“This year, people with flu symptoms are getting quite ill, thus it is important to get an annual flu shot to protect yourself from the influenza virus, it is not too late. Vaccine this year is a good match to the flu illness and is available at doctors’ offices, pharmacies and grocery stores around Pueblo,” Dr. Christine Nevin-Woods, the public health director at the Pueblo City-County Health Department said in a news release.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 36,000 Americans die from a flu-related illness each year.

If you haven’t received your flu shot yet, the CDC says now is the time to make sure you’re protected. The agency says flu season is ramping up early this year – for the first time in almost a decade.

According to CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, H3N2 is the predominant strain this year. It’s generally associated with a severe flu season. “The strains we are seeing suggest this could be a bad flu year,” Frieden said. “But this year’s vaccine is an excellent match with the influenza that’s circulating.”

Dr. Melinda Wharton, Acting Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, says current activity is highest in the South.

“We’re seeing the highest level in the southeastern and south central region of the United States,” she said. “Five states had high levels: Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas. Moderate levels of illness have been recorded in Missouri and Georgia.”

The CDC says about 123 million doses of the vaccine have already been distributed to health care providers, and about 112 million people have already been vaccinated.

Among doctors, nurses and pharmacists, about 80% to 90% have already been vaccinated, Frieden said, along with almost half of all pregnant women. The number of children being vaccinated has also increased. “I encourage everyone 6 months and up to get vaccinated,” Frieden said.

Each year there are approximately 200,000 hospitalizations for flu-related illnesses.

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)