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Weld County resident is first victim of 2013 flu season in Colorado

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By The Staff

WELD COUNTY — County health officials announced Wednesday, Dec. 4, that a young adult from Weld County has died of the H1N1 flu strain, making the victim the first death reported during the 2013-14 Colorado flu season.

The H1N1 strain is the same that was the main contributor to the 2009 flu pandemic. Weld County health officials said the patient experienced “a rapidly deteriorating condition and had no other symptoms or health conditions,” according to a news release.

There are three cases of hospitalized influenza across Weld County, in addition to dozens of others across the state.

“The annual flu season has started and a vaccination is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick” said Debbie Drew, Director of Public Health Services for Weld County health department. “This year’s vaccine contains antibodies to protect against the H1N1 strain and two other flu strains. And, it’s always a good idea to get vaccinated before the holidays.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu season is unpredictable in its severity and the length of the season varies from one year to another. Flu activity most commonly peaks in Colorado in January or February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.

The health department recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine is designed to protect against the main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. The flu vaccine is available at pharmacies, medical providers, and the health department.

Drew further recommends people always cover their coughs, wash their hands, and if people get sick with the flu, to stay home from work or school to prevent spreading the illness to others. The health department also recommends people keep their immune system healthy by eating nutritious food, getting physical activity, and adequate sleep.

For more information about the 2013-14 flu, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2013-2014.htm.