Two contagious illnesses on the rise in Mesa County

By: Taylor Temby Email
By: Taylor Temby Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- From coughing, to sneezing, a sore throat and fever. Do you know what your symptoms mean? Know More about which sicknesses are on the rise this winter, and how you can keep your family healthy during the holidays.

Of course doctors are seeing common colds and strep throat going around, but flu and norovirus cases are on the rise. Now health officials are warning you to wash those hands and be germ-conscious when you're around other people.

The La Villa Grande will tell you it starts with one, and then it explodes.

"It is highly contagious," La Villa Grande infection control nurse Sheryl Mohlan said of the norovirus. "My biggest concern was to try and contain it."

Forty-six patients and 25 staff members went down with symptoms of norovirus, forcing many to stay home, the healthy ones to work overtime and the sick patients to battle it.

“The minute I found out we had a few cases of vomiting and diarrhea, I put the facility on what we call lockdown,” Mohlan said.

Mesa County Health Officials say norovirus is on the rise this winter, and it's a disease which spreads quickly in crowded places.

"It’s a virus that causes symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and stomach cramping," Mesa County Health Department spokesperson Karen Martsolf said. "Childcare centers, schools and nursing home facilities where people are in close proximity."

Not to be outdone, the other highly contagious illness we all know is also starting to pick up, and the health department is starting to see hospitalizations, testing and doctor visits for influenza.

"It starts suddenly with that really high fever, and then body aches, chills, sore throat and cough," Primary Care Partners physician Dr. Barb Zind said.

Since the vaccination takes two weeks to develop an immunity, doctors say now is the perfect time to get the shot as kids head out on winter break.

“It's a good match the vaccine this year, so getting the vaccine is the best way to prevent influenza," Zind said.

Once you're sick, it can be a long road to recovery. Those at La Villa Grande suffered the norovirus from Nov. 24 through Dec. 11, but days of cleaning and countless Clorox wipes later, they’re healthy again-- at least for now.

"[It] really put a damper on things as far as to continue the care we provide," Mohlan said.

Again, health officials say the best way to protect yourself against the flu is by getting a vaccination, but unfortunately there is not one for the norovirus. If you do come down with this bug, you're just advised to stay as hydrated as possible.

Many places are still offering flu shots. You can purchase an injectable flu vaccine for $20 or the flu mist (nasal) for $25 from the Mesa County Health Department.

It’s open Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., Tuesdays from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., Thursday from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m.


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