Explaining the truth behind flu numbers in Colorado

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Explaining the truth behind flu numbers in Colorado

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's weekly report on flu has already been published, and this year, Colorado seems to be especially affected.

As soon as you enter the El Paso County Health Department, you are greeted with handkerchiefs, hand sanitizer and face masks.

It's because they want to prevent people from becoming a flu statistic. The CDC reports that 84,000 Americans have been hospitalized in three months.

Haley Zachary, a disease expert in El Paso County, says those numbers definitely show that we are in the middle of the flu season.

Despite that, the number still seems a bit high, however. Of those 84,000, 1,200 hospitalizations are here in Colorado. We asked Zachary to explain what hospitalization involves.

"People who go to the emergency room for the influenza test and are tested there will not count for the flu numbers unless they go into the hospital and they should stay there," Zachary said.

But some people with the flu do not go to the hospital at all. So, how are those cases of flu accounted for?

"Those numbers are tracked by the CDC in certain areas of the nation but not here locally," Zachary said.

Which means that there could, in fact, be more cases of flu, but the health department does not know about them.

Zachary says the flu in El Paso County is not as severe as it was last year and they think it's because the H1N1 strain and the vaccine are compatible.

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