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March 30, 2018 » The Wire

Flu-related hospitalizations break records this year in Colorado 

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The 2017-2018 flu season rocked Colorado with a record-breaking number of hospitalizations. According to the Denver Channel, the total number so far is up to 3,690 hospitalizations and counting, the most Colorado has ever seen in one flu season.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 48% of all adult ER patients sought out treatment at the ER when they weren't sick enough to be admitted to the hospital and their physicians' offices were closed. This flu season, many hospitals and emergency rooms were flooded because of the flu.

The Colorado Department of Health and Environment also reports there have been a total of 156 outbreaks of the flu in Colorado, the highest number of influenza-related outbreaks on record. People 65 years or older are being hospitalized for the flu more than any other age group throughout the state, and children under the age of six are the second highest group, with an incidence rate of 110 cases per 100,000 people.

Flu hospitalizations peaked at the end of December and have been slowing declining since then. On a national scale, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded a total of 21,279 flu-related hospitalizations since October 1, the typical start of the flu season.

There is a little bit of good news, however. Colorado researchers are now pushing closer to a universal flu vaccine. Amy Aspelund and her team at Vivaldi Biosciences, a company based at the Research Innovation Center at Colorado State University, are working on a flu vaccine called deltaFLU. This vaccine could fight more strains and get to market more quickly.

The new vaccine is a nasal spray that will allow them to react faster to the changes in the multiple different flu strains or other pandemic-like viruses.

“We’re trying to work with the global community to make a vaccine that will ultimately benefit people,” says Aspelund. “We have data in ferrets, soon to be humans, that our vaccine would be cross protective,” Carrie Wick, spokeswoman for Vivaldi Biosciences, says. That could mean that people would have to get flu shots less often, Aspelund says.

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