Flu season near its peak; Northwest Colorado skirts worst of it | CraigDailyPress.com

Flu season near its peak; Northwest Colorado skirts worst of it

Physician assistant Maggie Anderson sees patient Kevin Harris on an unusually quiet Thursday afternoon at The Memorial Hospital Walk-In Clinic. The clinic has seen up to 37 patients per day in recent weeks, the majority of whom have come in with symptoms of flu or strep throat.

— The flu season may already have peaked in Colorado, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, however, it is producing the highest number of hospitalizations and outbreaks in long-term care facilities recorded in the past 10 years.

Try this home remedy:

Fresh lemon ginger tea

Simple herbs, teas and nourishing foods can help you and your family stay well during cold and flu season. This homemade lemon ginger tea helps not only to boost the immune system and prevent illness but also to soothe and comfort and shorten the duration of illness.

What you need:

• 3- to 4-inch piece of fresh ginger root

• 3 lemons

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• honey or real maple syrup

Place 8 cups of water in a stockpot, then add washed, peeled and thinly sliced ginger root (add more for extra spice if desired). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a light simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off and let steep for another 40 minutes, or leave overnight for a stronger steep.

Squeeze lemons and add juice to the pot. Add ½ to 1 cup of honey or real maple syrup, to taste.

Add a dash or several dashes of cayenne pepper, to taste.

Drink several cups throughout the day.

Why it works:

According to author of “The Country Almanac of Home Remedies” and master herbalist, Brigitte Mars, diluted lemon in hot water can help relieve fever. Ginger root warms chills, fights infection and alleviates stomach distress, and cayenne pepper is rich in vitamin C, warms chills and improves congestion.

Raw honey and real maple syrup contain beneficial minerals, and honey can be very soothing to a sore throat.

Enjoy often for good health!

A total of 531 hospitalizations were reported statewide for the week ending Dec. 27, the highest number reported during a single week since the 2004-2005 season, according to the weekly influenza report from CDPHE.

A total of 1,903 influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported by 50 of Colorado's 64 counties as of Jan. 3 since the flu season began.

The total number of influenza-associated outbreaks in residential long-term care facilities statewide is 82 as of Jan. 3, also the highest total number reported during a flu season since 2004-2005. Of the residents who contract the flu during an outbreak, an estimated 6 percent die.

Northwest Colorado has been spared the worst of it, however. Referencing the latest up-to-date numbers from CDPHE, Director of Public Health at the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association Charity Neal reported that there have been only three hospitalizations due to influenza in Moffat County and four in Routt County since the start of flu season.

Valley-wide, the total number of diagnosed cases of influenza is higher, including 26 cases at The Memorial Hospital Medical Clinic in Craig, 31 positive influenza tests from the Yampa Valley Medical Center laboratory and 11 confirmed cases of influenza at the VNA Community Health Centers in Routt and Moffat counties.

TMH in Craig also has reported 23 cases of influenza or influenza-like illness since Nov. 1, which refers to those who test negative for the flu but show symptoms of it, often indicating the patient was infected with another strain of flu that could not be tested for.

On the ground, doctors and nurses in Northwest Colorado clinics are staying very busy.

"Anecdotal evidence shows us we're seeing a spike in the number of influenza cases we're seeing in clinic," Neal said.

TMH Medical Clinic Manager Terri Jourgensen said physicians in their new Convenient Care Walk-in Clinic have been seeing up to 37 patients per day, the majority of whom have symptoms of flu or strep throat.

"We are treating the flu with Tamiflu if they come in to be seen within 36 hours of developing symptoms, which tends to shorten the length of the illness," Jourgensen said. "We are recommending rest, fluids, Tylenol or ibuprofen, frequent hand-washing and staying home from school and work until our patients have had 24 hours without a fever."

Flu season in Northwest Colorado usually doesn't tend to wind down until February, and regardless of statewide trends, it is unclear whether flu season has peaked yet in the area. Even with the prevalence of flu strains that cannot be vaccinated for, area doctors are still encouraging their patients to get flu shots.

"We are seeing an increased incidence of vaccinated influenza and that is because of the multiple strains of influenza that are out there," Neal said. "We're still recommending the flu shot because there are multiples strains of flu virus at any give time in a community."

Good hygiene can also play a big role in controlling the spread of flu.

"Handwashing, handwashing, handwashing: that would be our mantra," Neal said. "And stay home if you're ill."

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com.

Try this home remedy:

Fresh lemon ginger tea

Simple herbs, teas and nourishing foods can help you and your family stay well during cold and flu season. This homemade lemon ginger tea helps not only to boost the immune system and prevent illness but also to soothe and comfort and shorten the duration of illness.

What you need:

• 3- to 4-inch piece of fresh ginger root

• 3 lemons

• honey or real maple syrup

Place 8 cups of water in a stockpot, then add washed, peeled and thinly sliced ginger root (add more for extra spice if desired). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a light simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off and let steep for another 40 minutes, or leave overnight for a stronger steep.

Squeeze lemons and add juice to the pot. Add ½ to 1 cup of honey or real maple syrup, to taste.

Add a dash or several dashes of cayenne pepper, to taste.

Drink several cups throughout the day.

Why it works:

According to author of “The Country Almanac of Home Remedies” and master herbalist, Brigitte Mars, diluted lemon in hot water can help relieve fever. Ginger root warms chills, fights infection and alleviates stomach distress, and cayenne pepper is rich in vitamin C, warms chills and improves congestion.

Raw honey and real maple syrup contain beneficial minerals, and honey can be very soothing to a sore throat.

Enjoy often for good health!

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