DEL NORTE—The flu has been an issue nationwide this season with several reports coming in stating that many have died due to the strain of flu running rampant.
Rio Grande County Commissioners welcomed Public Health Director Emily Brown during their end of month meeting on Jan. 31 who presented them with an updated report on the statistics of the flu in Rio Grande County. According to the report, The Valley is experiencing a higher than normal amount of flu cases but is still down in percentage of cases compared to the rest of the state.
The report states, “As of Jan. 26, 2017 there have been 56 influenza-related hospitalizations reported in the San Luis Valley with three additional cases reported on Jan. 22. Forty-seven cases are influenza, 17 H3, one H1N1, one H1N2v and nine cases are influenza B-7. The season peaked according to a graph included in the report in the months of December until recently and the numbers appear to be going down. “We have seen the worst of it, but there are still cases being reported every day,” explained Brown.
In comparison to the rest of the state the report shows that through Jan. 20, there have been 2,366 total hospitalizations related to influenza with 111 outbreaks in Colorado communities reported and one pediatric death state-wide. People in the age group of 65 and older are the ones who have been infected with influenza the most, while pediatric ages six months and younger is the second most subgroup affected. Health officials are still urging people to get vaccinated to help stop the spread of influenza.
Next, Brown spoke with commissioners about the “It Matters” program coming to the Valley. The program encourages those suffering from different types of addiction and depression to seek help from state-wide clinics. According to Brown the Valley could potentially see an opioid addiction clinic in the near future where people suffering from addiction can find a safe place to seek help and get medication that will be administered by trained professionals in hopes of stopping opioid and heroin addiction.
The program would allow a methadone clinic to be opened in the Alamosa area where people could go to receive medications that would help them fight the addiction. “There would be anywhere from 12 to 13 clinics in the Valley with trained professionals that would be able to administer the methadone. Health officials have to go through specific training and have several hours of classes in order to be approved for the clinics; that’s why it is not more widely used,” explained Brown.
“We are trying to get providers to participate in the program and raise awareness in order to fight opioid addiction in the Valley,” finished Brown. Commissioners stated that though the clinics pose a potential problem, they would ultimately help the community and people with addiction. “Opioid addiction is no longer a faceless epidemic. People we work with and know every day struggle with the addiction and we want the community to understand that,” said Brown.
More information on the “It Matters” program can be found at www.itmatterks.org.