PUEBLO, Colo. - A woman has died from influenza complications at a Pueblo hospital, officials said Tuesday.
The middle-aged woman was among 101 people who have been hospitalized with the flu in Colorado this flu season, state health officials said.
State officials say the spike in hospitalizations is high for this early in the flu season, with 49 people being hospitalized in just the past two weeks. Normally, flu hospitalizations are in the single digits at this time of year, officials said.
"My heart goes out to the family and friends. It’s a tragedy that such a young woman would pass away from flu and its complications," said Dr. Christine Nevin-Woods, public health director at the Pueblo City-County Health Department.
State health officials tell 7NEWS they are investigating what's causing the jump in flu hospitalizations.
"It is not too late to get a flu shot," Nevin-Woods said, adding that "the vaccine this year is a good match to the flu strains circulating in the nation and is readily available at doctors' offices, pharmacies and grocery stores."
Health officials said it is important to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible, because it takes about two weeks to build up immunity after vaccination.
"My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have lost a dear friend and family member," said Dr. Joshiah Gordon, who cared for the woman during her hospitalization.
"Most people who get the flu do not have severe complications, but flu can be unpredictable and strike suddenly," Gordon said. "Patients at high risk, including those with diabetes, the very young and the very old, and especially those with underlying lung disease, are at a particularly high risk."
"There is no cure for the flu," Gordon added. "Some medications can decrease the severity of the disease, but ultimately the only real treatment is prevention."
Seasonal flu is a serious disease that causes illness, hospitalizations and deaths every year. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates up to 36,000 Americans die from a flu-related illness each year.