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Longmont United sees uptick in flu emergency visits, hospitalizations

As Coloradans return from travel and a holiday filled with gatherings, flu transmission rates are high, the latest data shows.
Longmont United Hospital

Centura Longmont United Hospital has seen an increase in flu hospitalizations and emergency visits as the virus season continues.

The hospital’s emergency department saw 74 flu cases in December — up from 71 cases in November and 3 cases in October, the latest data from the hospital shows. Admissions to the hospital from those cases went from nine in November to nineteen in December.

Over the past three months, hundreds of people came to the emergency department with flu-like symptoms, but fewer than half of those cases ended up actually being the flu, the data shows.

More than half of the flu cases reported by the hospital in December were influenza A, which causes typical flu symptoms such as fever, chills, sneezing, coughing and a sore throat. 

“A (H3N2) is the predominant subtype identified in Colorado and the U.S., which appears to be a very good match with this year’s flu vaccine,” the Boulder County Public Health Department said in its latest flu report issued Dec. 22. “Vaccination helps prevent infection and can also prevent serious outcomes in people who get vaccinated but still get sick with these respiratory illnesses.”

Boulder County — and most of Colorado — are under “high risk” on a flu heat map generated by anonymous data from Kinsa smart thermometers and their apps.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also ranks Colorado’s flu activity level as “very high” so far this season.

Since October 2, there have been more than 2,100 flu hospitalizations in our state, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. In the week ending Dec. 24, there were 365 new flu-related hospitalizations. 

There have been no pediatric flu deaths reported by the public health agency so far this season, but there have been at least 30 pediatric deaths in the country, according to the CDC.

There are prescription antiviral drugs that can be used to treat respiratory illnesses, Boulder County Public Health noted in its flu report.

“It’s very important that flu and COVID-19 antiviral drugs are started as soon as possible to treat, particularly for people who are at higher risk of serious complications based on their age or health,” the report read. “Multiple respiratory viruses are co-circulating with the flu virus. Testing is important to determine appropriate treatment.”

Amber Fisher

About the Author: Amber Fisher

I'm thrilled to be an assistant editor with the Longmont Leader after spending the past decade reporting for news outlets across North America. When I'm not writing, you can find me snowboarding, reading fiction and running (poorly).
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