Respiratory diseases on the rise in Colorado

The state health department is asking Coloradans to take steps to protect themselves and others from the flu, RSV, and COVID-19.

DENVER — State health experts are encouraging Coloradans to protect themselves and others in the face of rising cases of respiratory illnesses.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) said in a statement on Friday that it was monitoring rising cases of influenza, RSV and COVID-19, and helping coordinate hospitals as they prepared for more.

Cases are also occurring earlier than usual, the CDPHE said.

The state health department recommends several measures that can help slow the spread of respiratory illnesses:

  • To get vaccinated. Influenza and COVID-19 have effective and safe vaccines. Anyone 6 months and older can get the flu and COVID-19 vaccine. It is safe to get vaccinated together.

  • See or call a health care provider or doctor before going to a busy emergency department when you or your child have respiratory symptoms. Your provider can help you figure out the best ways to manage symptoms and when it’s important to be seen in the clinic, urgent care, or emergency department.

  • Staying home when sick, including not visiting or interacting with people who may be at higher risk, including the elderly, young children and infants. This is essential to prevent the spread of viruses and cause outbreaks which put additional strain on the hospital system.

  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or with a hand sanitizer containing 60% alcohol.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or muff when coughing or sneezing, throw away the tissue after using it, and clean your hands as described above.

  • Clean potentially contaminated surfaces, such as doorknobs, tables, handrails, etc.

  • Avoid sharing cups, eating utensils and touching your face with unwashed hands.

Flu

The Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention (CDC) said this flu season may be the worst we’ve seen in years and estimates there have been at least 1,600,000 flu cases, 13,000 hospitalizations and 730 deaths in the United States so far. now this season. Two childhood flu deaths have been reported for the 2022-23 season.

Currently in Colorado, 25 people have been hospitalized with the flu in the week ending October 29. There have been a total of 49 hospitalized since October 2. You can go to the CDPHE. Colorado Flu and RSV Report for the latest data.

RSV

The CDPHE said Colorado has seen a sharp increase in reported RSV outbreaks and hospitalizations, with 367 RSV-associated hospitalizations in the Denver five-county metropolitan area (Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson counties). and 57 outbreaks in child care and school settings. statewide October 1-29.

More than half of outbreaks involved at least one person going to hospital. The increase is straining the pediatric healthcare system, the CDPHE said, as 95% of current hospitalizations for RSV are in children. High levels of RSV transmission are expected to continue for at least several more weeks.

Colorado Children’s Hospital said its inpatient units were full daily, leaving many families waiting hours for a bed to become available. Therefore, the Children’s postpones certain procedures and postpones admissions that are not considered emergencies.

“Although we are doing our best to avoid this, it is a way of continuing to provide care when there is a sharp increase in the need for acute care services,” a spokesperson for the hospital system said in a statement. “It helps us care for patients who are very ill and need care immediately, avoid overcrowding and have team members on hand to ensure safe and appropriate care for each patient.”

They add that they have enacted their “strategic capacity and surge protocols,” which include increasing staffing across their system and expanding emergency departments and inpatient capacity throughout. the system.

“Colorado Children’s Hospital management and its clinical teams are universally focused and working hard to ensure we have the staff and the ability to continue to provide the same high-quality care our community expects of us.” , the statement read in part. .

In some cases, the spokesperson adds that patients may need to be transferred to other locations in the children’s hospital system, such as Colorado Springs, or out of the system depending on bed availability and the care needs of the hospital. patient.

More than Children’s Hospital of the Rockies in Denver, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Reginald Washington says that while they have seen an increase in cases, they are managing the caseload for now.

“We have meetings several times a day to look at bed capacity. We look at nursing availability, respiratory therapist availability…and we’re very strategic about how we manage those beds,” he said. he declares.

Regarding the threshold to be reached that would cause a change in operations, Washington explained that the threshold changes daily and sometimes hourly depending on supply and demand at the hospital.

“And we have to be very careful to make sure that everyone who needs a bed gets a bed. Everyone who needs a procedure gets a procedure. And so there’s no real tipping point. but a tipping point that we look at multiple times a day and make sure we’re making the right decisions at the right time,” he said.

In part, he thinks the team has learned a lot from COVID-19 about how to deal with such issues.

“For example, I looked at the schedule of operations for the whole of next week. We know which patients will be outpatients…vs. someone who might be having surgery and needing a bed for the night or maybe several nights. And so we weigh all of these things with the number of beds we have, the number of nurses, and so on. we have, and we make those decisions.

Anyone with a child showing symptoms of RSV is urged to consider taking them to their GP before taking them to the emergency room.

COVID-19[feminine]

Colorado is also experiencing a definite upward trend in COVID-19 cases. Positivity is increasing and hospitalizations have increased in recent weeks. BA.5 remains the most prevalent subvariant, but the CDPHE said others are emerging that could accelerate transmission in the coming weeks.

You can go to CDPHE website for more information on COVID-19.

“As the weather gets colder, more people are spending more time indoors, and viruses are more likely to spread indoors,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy. “We have three respiratory viruses currently circulating, but we can all help reduce disease transmission by getting vaccinated, isolating ourselves when sick and practicing good hand hygiene, which can help reduce the risk of infection. strain on our healthcare system. What may look like a mild cold for one person may be very serious for another person, especially infants, young children, immunocompromised people or the elderly.

RELATED: Doctors brace for rise in RSV cases in children

RELATED: No, the CDC does not require children to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at school.

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