Flu season taking a toll on Aspen’s smallest residents | AspenTimes.com

Flu season taking a toll on Aspen’s smallest residents

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

With the flu season in full swing, Aspen Valley Hospital and local physicians are seeing large numbers of sick children under 3 years old, a health official said.

This weekend, six children taken to the hospital tested positive for strains of influenza, and last weekend eight children tested positive. Yvonne Hernandez, nursing director at Community Health Services, said this is the time of year when cases of influenza are at their highest, but she thinks the number of small children becoming ill is unusual.

“It seems like we’ve had a lot of young kids this year,” she said, adding that she’s tried to find a specific day-care center where the outbreak of flu may have begun, but couldn’t. “One mom came in and asked me if kids could be getting sick from their nanny, and maybe that’s it, but who’s to say? There is no commonality found so far.”

In Colorado, 550 cases of flu have been reported since the beginning of September. Hernandez said Pitkin County alone has seen 38 such cases this flu season, but notes that those numbers don’t include incidents of doctors not initiating lab tests.

Also, residents who stay home and deal with a case of the flu from their couch or bed aren’t included in the data, she said.

“We’re at peak season here, and the numbers have started climbing for now,” Hernandez said. “The flu season doesn’t end until the end of March, but with people up here and all of the seasonal residents, I wouldn’t be surprised if the flu season stretches through April.”

The flu vaccine is still available throughout the valley, and Hernandez said she would still recommend it for prevention. She said over the next couple of weeks the numbers will start to ebb, but people shouldn’t let their guard down.

“Hand washing is the best method of defense,” she said. “I’m telling people to get the vaccine, wash your hands and cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow.”