DENVER (CBS4) – The flu is hitting Colorado with dozens of people hospitalized, and now one death has been reported.

Peak flu season is still about a month or more away — January into February – and already 52 people have been hospitalized

Last year the total for the season, which ran from September 2012 to May, was just over 1,500 with five deaths under the age of 18. The department of health doesn’t track adult deaths.

Health officials say flu season can be unpredictable in how long it will last and how severe it might be.

The H1N1 flu strain — the same seen during the 2009 flu pandemic — is believed to be the cause of the death of a young person in Weld County. Dr. Lisa Miller with the Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment says it’s not unusual.

“H1N1 has been around every year. It hasn’t been around in huge numbers, but it has circulated,” Miller said.

Miller says while dozens statewide have been hospitalized from the flu, the death reported out of Weld County is the first this season. What’s uncommon about that case is the patient was a young adult with no other symptoms or health conditions.

“We know there are some groups at an increased risk of more severe disease and even death, but occasionally healthy people die of flu. And actually, among children a fair percentage is healthy children without underlying health conditions, so it can happen to anyone.”

Still, some have doubts about getting the flu vaccine and the negative effects it might have. Miller says most of those concerns are simple not true. She says getting a flu shot is still one of the best ways to avoid getting sick.

“Most of those things are myths … they’re really not arguments, they’re myths,” Miller said. “You don’t get the flu from the flu shot.”

The health department recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months and older.

Doctors say little things like covering a cough and washing hands frequently can also help keep someone from getting sick. For those who do end up with the flu it’s also important to stay home to keep it from spreading.


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