By Kathy Walsh

DENVER (CBS4) – The flu is hitting people hard in Colorado, just in time for the holidays.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), 438 people have been hospitalized with influenza this year. That is three and a half times higher than this time last year.

flu numbers 5voan transfer frame 876 Colorado Flu Hospitalizations 3.5 Times Higher Than Last Year  

One Denver family of five has really suffered. All but the mother have gotten the flu. The tiniest of the Matteos ended up in the hospital.

“Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea,” Nicole Matteo explained those were the flu symptoms her baby, Mable, has been fighting.

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(credit: CBS)

The 10-month-old baby has been feeling bad all over. The flu led to dehydration and landed Mable in the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children (RMHC).

“Really scary,” said Nicole.

Nicole says it all started last Tuesday with 6-year-old Lily.

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Lily Matteo (credit: Matteo family)

“She was complaining of her brain hurt and a fever of 104,” Nicole said.

Then dad, brother and baby all got sick.

“A lot of Pedialyte, a lot of popsicles,” said Nicole.

This season, there is a lot of flu.

flu numbers 5pkg transfer frame 352 Colorado Flu Hospitalizations 3.5 Times Higher Than Last Year  

CBS4’s Kathy Walsh interviews Nicole Matteo.
(credit: CBS)

CDPHE reports there were 121 hospitalizations related to flu last year.

“We didn’t get the flu shot,” explained Nicole.

But the vaccine is considered an important part of the control of influenza.

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(credit: CBS)

“We do recommend everybody getting the flu vaccine,” said Hospitalist Dr. Kristine Appel at RMHC.

Appel said, with the shot, you may still get the flu but not as much of the suffering.

“The vaccine can still help shorten the duration of illness and make the illness less severe,” said Appel.

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(credit: CBS)

After a night in the hospital and some badly needed fluids, Mable already seems to be feeling better. The hope is she will be home and crawling around again in time for Christmas.

There is still time to be vaccinated.

Other ways to prevent the flu include staying away from sick people and cleaning your hands frequently.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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