Health warnings for Larimer County and nationwide

Photo courtesy of CDC.gov – Electron microscope image of SARS a virus in the coronavirus family. Under magnification you see each virus particle is surrounded by a corona, or crown. These crowns are little proteins that live on the surface of the virus to determine which cells it can infect.

By Amber McIver-Traywick

The Surveyor

Flu cases are on the rise in Larimer County, with 47 hospitalized flu cases so far this year.  Surveillance for the 2019-2020 flu season officially began Sept. 30, 2019, and will run through May 16, 2020. The total number of hospitalizations statewide since the beginning of this flu season is 909.

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. Flu cases are expected to continue to increase, as travel this time of year helps spread the virus across the country.

The flu shot is the best protection from the flu. Even though a vaccinated individual might still get the flu, those illnesses tend to be shorter and less severe than ones from individuals who did not receive the vaccination.

Dr. Chris Nevin-Woods, Medical Director for the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment says, “It’s not too late to get your flu shot this year, but the sooner the better. It takes about two weeks for someone to be protected from the flu after their vaccination, so it’s important to get it now.”

If you do get sick, make sure you stay home to avoid spreading the flu in the community. It is also important to not visit family members and friends in long-term care facilities or hospitals when you are sick. Make sure you wash hands often, and cover coughs and sneezes.

For more information on flu visit larimer.org/flu.

Case of new coronavirus confirmed in the United States

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that a new strain of coronavirus, which shares many symptoms with the flu, has infected more than 500 people and killed nearly 20 to date in Wuhan, China. The illness made its way to the U.S. on Sunday carried by an infected man traveling from China to Washington state where he lives.

The outbreak though not considered a pandemic yet has health officials concerned and is being closely monitored. According to the CDC the outbreak began in early December 2019 and continues to expand in scope and magnitude. Global surveillance is in the early stages and officials expect more cases to be confirmed in China as well as a growing number of countries internationally.

According to the World Health Organization Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses as minor as a mild cold, or as serious as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which killed nearly 1,600 people when they originated in 2015 and 2002.

These viruses often present with pneumonia-like symptoms and can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Similar to other respiratory illnesses the CDC states that preliminary information suggests this new virus is particularly dangerous for the elderly and those people with underlying health problems or compromised immune systems.

Initially some patients were linked to a seafood market in Wuhan, China suggesting animal-to-human transmission, but officials have now confirmed there are several cases of persons with no ties to the market suggesting person-to-person transmission. It’s rare for an animal coronavirus to evolve and infect people.

In response to this outbreak, Chinese officials began exit screening for travelers leaving the city of Wuhan. Since then Chinese officials have stopped all public transportation in Wuhan and have urged the 11 million residents not to leave the city and to avoid crowds as much as possible.

The CDC and Homeland Security will start screening travelers this weekend for symptoms who are coming from Wuhan, China to international airports in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles to help prevent the illness continuing to spread.

The CDC recommends basic hygiene practices as the best line of defense against contracting illnesses including coronaviruses like washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and making sure to help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, they recommend the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

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