County flu cases spike

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El Paso County experienced a dramatic rise in flu cases last month.

“In January 2008, El Paso County reported 22 hospitalized individuals with the flu, which represents a marked difference as compared to January 2007 when only three cases were reported,” said Dr. Bernadette Albanese, medical director for the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment.

January’s numbers are almost as high as the entire 2006-2007 flu season, which totaled 26 cases.

“And we are seeing cases across all ages, with 50 percent occurring in people under age 20,” she said.

January through March are traditionally peak months for the spread of flu, so this is an especially important time for people to take precautionary measures – including making sure that they and their families are immunized, she said.

Each year in the United States, an estimated 200,000 people who get the flu require hospitalization, and 36,000 people die from flu-related illnesses.

To find a local immunization clinic visit the Influenza and Pneumococcal Alert Coalition at www.immunizecolorado.com.