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Flu circulating in Iowa, flu shots recommended

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 11:55 a.m. CST

Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) urges all Iowans over 6 months of age to receive their yearly seasonal influenza vaccine.

Surveillance by IDPH influenza sentinel sites and confirmatory testing by the State Hygienic Laboratory shows the flu is circulating in Iowa. Three cases of seasonal influenza have been identified in eastern and central Iowa in the last two months; all were type A – the strain that can cause more serious illness. All the individuals are recovering and were not hospitalized.

“It’s important to note that influenza is not a ‘reportable disease’ in Iowa,” said IDPH Medical Director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “This means health care providers are not required to notify IDPH each time a patient tests positive for influenza; thus there are probably a lot more people with the flu out in our communities.”

Influenza surveillance also gives an indication of the types of influenza viruses circulating, how sick people are getting with the flu, where outbreaks are occurring, and how widespread influenza illness is.

Vaccination is the best defense against influenza, but personal actions also help prevent the spread of illness. Remember the 3Cs:• Cover your coughs and sneezes• Clean your hands frequently• Contain germs by staying home when ill

The flu is a respiratory illness caused by viruses. The flu comes on suddenly and symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, and body aches. Illness typically lasts two to seven days. Influenza may cause severe illness or even death in people such as the very young or very old, or those who have underlying health conditions.

IDPH conducts year-round influenza surveillance through the Iowa Influenza Surveillance Network, and posts a flu report weekly. For more information about where and what kind of influenza is in Iowa, go to www.idph.state.ia.us/Cade/Influenza.aspx?pg=FluHome.

Contact your health care provider or local health department to find out where the vaccine is available in your community or use the Flu Vaccine Finder at www.flu.gov/.

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