Influenza spread and severity is building in Iowa, as the Iowa Department of Public Health reported four new influenza-related deaths today: an elderly (81+ years of age) female and older adult (61 to 80 years of age) female in Southeast Iowa; an elderly female in Northeast Iowa; and an elderly male in Northwest Iowa.
Since October 2017, a total of six influenza-related deaths have been reported:
- Northeast (one death)
- Northwest (two deaths)
- Southeast (two deaths)
- Eastern (one death)
The average age of the influenza-related deaths is 86. Three individuals had underlying conditions or contributing factors reported.
“These deaths are a sad reminder that influenza hits the very young, very old and those with weakened immune systems especially hard,” said State Epidemiologist and IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “While it’s important that these individuals get the flu vaccine, it’s equally important that young and healthy Iowans be vaccinated so they don’t spread the flu to others who may be at higher risk.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends anyone over 6 months of age receive a flu vaccination.
If you have not received a flu shot yet, it’s not too late. Go get vaccinated today.
Because influenza is not a “reportable” disease in Iowa, doctors are not required to notify IDPH each time a case is diagnosed; however, IDPH conducts influenza surveillance that helps identify what strains of flu are circulating, how widespread illness is, and in what regions of the state illness is occurring. While cases of influenza are not reportable, influenza-related deaths are reported to IDPH.
Influenza can be prevented or its severity diminished with the flu vaccine. The flu is a respiratory illness caused by viruses. It 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, and often puts healthy people in bed for days.
If flu symptoms start, call your health care provider right away – especially if you are at high risk of complications and serious disease. If you start on anti-viral medications within a day or two of when your symptoms start, your risk of serious disease, hospitalization and even death can be reduced.
For more information about influenza, visit https://idph.iowa.gov/influenza/faq.