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Health Department warns of flu affecting adults

This news story was published on January 2, 2014.
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Mohawk Square, home of the CG Health Department

Mohawk Square, home of the CG Health Department

MASON CITY – From November through December 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has received a number of reports of severe respiratory illness among young and middle-aged adults, many of whom were infected with the influenza A (H1N1) virus.  Multiple hospitalizations, including many requiring intensive care unit (ICU) admission and some fatalities have been reported. While it is not possible to predict which influenza viruses will predominate during the entire 2013-2014 influenza season, H1N1 has been the predominant circulating virus so far.

The Iowa Department of Public Health also reports the H1N1 strain as the predominant strain of influenza circulating in Iowa at this time. About 2/3 of all laboratory confirmed cases have occurred in people 5 to 49 years of age and this age group has accounted for most of the recent reported hospitalizations. This is unusual, since in typical flu seasons, the very young and very old are affected most frequently.

“Fortunately, our immediate area has not been impacted quite yet, but it’s only a matter of time,” says Karen Crimmings, Disease Prevention and Investigation Service Manager for the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health. “There is still time to get a flu vaccination to offer protection if you haven’t already received one.”

The Health Department still has flu vaccine available. The Immunization Clinic is open Monday – Friday from 10:00 – Noon and 12: 30 – 4:00 PM.

In addition to getting vaccinated, individuals should practice the following steps to slow down the spread of the flu:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. This will block the spread of droplets from your mouth or nose that could contain germs.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with individuals who are sick.
  • If you or your children become ill with the flu, limit contact with others as much as possible to help prevent spreading the illness.
  • Stay home or keep your child home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone except to seek medical care.

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