While influenza spread in Iowa remains low, surveillance indicates activity is increasing and the number of flu-related deaths in Iowa now stands at two. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) confirmed the influenza-related death of an elderly (81 years of age and older) Central Iowa male who had underlying health conditions. In addition, surveillance indicates all four of the flu viruses covered by the 2016/2017 vaccine are circulating in Iowa. “This year’s influenza vaccine appears to be a good match to the virus strains being seen in Iowa,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “With flu season potentially lasting at least another two months, it’s certainly not too late to get a flu vaccination.”
The make-up of U.S. flu vaccines is reviewed each year and updated to match circulating flu viruses. Flu vaccines protect against the three or four viruses that research suggests will be most common. For 2016-2017, three-component vaccines protect against two influenza A strains and one B strain. The four component vaccine contains an additional B virus. Each of these different strains has been detected in Iowa, meaning you could potentially get the flu four separate times without vaccination.
The flu is a respiratory illness caused by viruses. The flu comes on suddenly and may cause severe illness or even death in people such as the very young or very old, or those who have underlying health conditions. Symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, and body aches. Illness typically lasts two to seven days, and often puts healthy people in bed for days.
Influenza is not a ‘reportable disease’ in Iowa, which means doctors are not required to notify IDPH each time a patient tests positive for influenza; however, IDPH conducts year-round influenza surveillance through the Iowa Influenza Surveillance Network. This surveillance indicates what types of influenza viruses are circulating and how widespread influenza illness is. For more information about where and what kind of influenza is in Iowa, go to https://idph.iowa.gov/influenza/reports.
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 https://vaccinefinder.org.