A third child has died of flu complications in Colorado, and about half of the flu season still remains.
The most recent reported death was a school-aged child from a mountain community. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported another school-aged child and a preschool-aged child died earlier this year from flu complications. The department hasn’t released additional information, to protect families’ privacy.
State officials haven’t released the number of adult deaths. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to flu complications, as are children younger than 5, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions.
The state health department reported 2,430 people had been hospitalized due to influenza as of Saturday, including 139 people hospitalized in the past week. The department started tracking cases at the end of September and will continue through mid-May.
Jessica Bralish, spokeswoman for CDPHE, said that it’s difficult to tell if the flu season has peaked this year. Often, there’s a distinct high point and infections drop rapidly, but that hasn’t happened so far, she said.
“This year, we have had six to seven continuous weeks of elevated activity since the end of December, indicating that influenza continues to be circulating widely in Colorado,” she said.
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Emergency room visits for flu-like symptoms are at about the same level as they were last season, coming down from a spike that ran from late December through early February. So far, the number of hospitalizations and deaths from flu and pneumonia this year is about average, Bralish said. Pneumonia is one of the more serious complications of flu, and CDPHE groups the two together for reporting, though other viruses and bacteria also can cause pneumonia.
The flu vaccine doesn’t prevent all cases, but people who were vaccinated tend to have less severe symptoms even if they do get sick. Washing your hands frequently and avoiding sick people also can reduce your odds of getting the flu.