(COLORADO SPRINGS) — UCHealth hospitals say they continue to see concerning trends with respiratory illnesses spreading across Colorado, specifically COVID-19 and influenza.

UCHealth said they are already seeing a higher number of influenza patients right now than during similar times in years past. State and UCHealth models suggest Colorado has not seen its peak number of hospitalizations from these viruses yet, projecting cases will continue to increase over the coming weeks.

Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention and control for UCHealth, said now more than ever, it’s important to take precautions to keep people out of the hospital. If you’re not vaccinated against COVID-19 or influenza already, she said it’s not too late.

“We are officially in respiratory virus season. That includes everything you can think of from the common cold to more severe illnesses, and it has begun with a vengeance,” said Dr. Barron. “Sometimes we have a slow start to the respiratory season. Not this year. We went from nothing to hundreds of cases in a very short time frame.”

In addition to vaccination, other precautions can help prevent the spread of these viruses:

  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes with unwashed hands.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow or with a tissue.
  • If you’re sick, wear a mask or stay home to avoid getting others sick.

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is also running rampant among children and toddlers, as it has shown to spread quickly through childcare and school environments, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). There were more than 42 confirmed outbreaks in October, more than double from the same timeframe in 2021.

More than half of those outbreaks had at least one person involved in the outbreak seek care at a hospital. CDPHE said that 95% of hospitalizations are among children.

RSV is transmitted through droplets from a person who has the virus, so experts urge teaching hand hygiene and frequent washing, as well as covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Disinfecting surfaces, staying home when sick, and avoiding sharing utensils and cups can also restrict the spread of the virus.

If your child is showing early signs of respiratory distress, experts urge taking them to seek primary care, as cases of RSV can be much more severe in infants and toddlers than in adults.