DES MOINES – Surveillance by the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Iowa Influenza Surveillance Network shows while flu activity in the state is slowly increasing and remains low, there already are two strains of the virus circulating.
“This is the perfect time to get your flu vaccination,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “Identification of two circulating strains by the State Hygienic Lab means that without a flu vaccination, an individual could become ill with the flu two different times.” This season’s flu vaccines cover three or four strains of flu, depending on which type of vaccine you receive. Quinlisk says the early identification of several flu strains circulating in the state means the upcoming influenza season could be more severe than a typical season.
IDPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend annual influenza vaccinations for everyone 6 months of age and older. It’s especially important to be vaccinated if you have regular contact with people more vulnerable to the complications of flu, including babies, children with asthma, and the elderly. IDPH also recommends pregnant women be vaccinated to protect themselves, and to pass on some immunity to their baby.
The flu is a serious 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, and often puts healthy people in bed for 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.
Influenza is not a ‘reportable disease’ in Iowa, which means health care providers are not required to notify IDPH each time a patient tests positive for influenza; however, IDPH conducts year-round statewide influenza surveillance through the Iowa Influenza Surveillance Network. This surveillance indicates what types of influenza viruses are circulating and how widespread influenza illness is.