According to new statistics by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, flu-related illnesses have spiked in Colorado over the past week.
Influenza viruses usually infect the respiratory tract. Last flu season, the CDC received 185 reports of pediatric flu deaths in the U.S. After last year's record numbers for confirmed cases and hospitalization, the Health Department says they are hoping residents take the infection seriously and take measures to protect themselves against it.
The dominant strain of flu circulating this year - influenza A H1N1 - is also associated with "a higher burden of disease ... among children than among adults", Madison told Ireland.
Many were adults older than 65, but also 180 children died from the flu.
Dr. Williams says with so many of us travelling, shopping or going to parties this time of year, the risk of being exposed to the flu is high and the flu shot can help you avoid getting seriously ill and spreading the flu to others.
People who have been recently exposed to the flu virus can see their local doctor about getting a proactive dosage of Tamiflu to help prevent getting the flu since the vaccine needs more time to work.
Yourdon says this increase in cases is a few weeks earlier than a year ago, when there weren't many confirmed cases until the last week of December. "So if we know that we are seeing an outbreak in a specific population, we can get the word out to our providers, to our hospitals, to remain vigilant, and to stay prepared", Epidemiology Program Manager, Heidi Dragoo.
From a prevention standpoint, the best things parents can do is have their children vaccinated against the flu, make sure they are washing their hands and keep them home from school if they are sick so they don't spread the virus to others, he said.
"The flu shot can't make you sick".
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The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services also reported a pediatric flu death December 21.
More than three times as many children have been hospitalized with the flu across the country compared to this time a year ago, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada's latest FluWatch report.
"[It's] likely to be much, much better than previous year", he said.