Health

Flu death total reaches nearly 100 in Iowa after 20 more Iowans died this week

A flu vaccine at St. Luke’s Pediatrics Clinic in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
A flu vaccine at St. Luke’s Pediatrics Clinic in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Twenty more Iowas died this past week due to influenza, bringing the statewide total to 97 deaths this flu season.

The figure is according to the Iowa Department of Public Health flu report released Friday, which gathered information from Oct. 1 to Feb. 3.

No pediatric deaths have been reported in Iowa this season, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported 63 deaths of those 17 years old and younger nationwide this year.

The number of people being treated in hospitals for flu-like illnesses is the highest since the CDC began its current tracking system in 2010. The federal agency on Friday said that outbreaks likely will continue for several more weeks.

The prominent virus is H3N2, an “A” strain. It’s known to be particularly dangerous for the very young, the very old and those with any chronic health problems, such as a heart condition or asthma, according to state health officials.

But the virus has had an impact on all ages. Federal health officials say this year’s is one of the worst, sickening and hospitalizing individuals at a rate that has not been seen in years.

The Washington Post has reported this flu season has sent more people to the hospital with the illness than any other season in nearly a decade.

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The CDC reported Friday that a total of 17,101 influenza-associated hospitalizations occurred in the U.S. between Oct. 1 and Feb. 3, a rate of nearly 60 percent per 100,000 people.

In Iowa, there were 152 flu-related hospitalizations the week of Jan. 29. That brings this season’s total hospitalization rate to 1,044.

Max Freund / The Gazette

The majority of those hospitalized were aged 65 and older, a total of 657 since Oct. 1, the state health department report stated.

There were seven flu outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state, including one in Eastern Iowa this past week. This brings the total up to 65 outbreaks in these facilities this season.

School also have been affected, prompting lower attendance and restrictions across area school districts for sick children to stay home.

According to the Department of Public Health, there have been 187 schools reporting 10 percent or more of their students absent due to illness, including a total of 48 this past week.

The Iowa Department of Public Health continues to recommend a flu vaccine for anyone over six months old.

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches and fatigue. Those with symptoms, but who normally are healthy, are encouraged to stay home until they feel better.

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Local hospitals have been seeing in an influx of patients to their emergency departments this season, causing long waits in some cases.

Area officials ask individuals to stay away from hospitals if they can. Those with symptoms but who normally are healthy are encouraged to stay home during until they feel better.

However, individuals should seek medical attention if they are having trouble breathing, if they have high fevers or they are hard to wake up. Those who have a fever that falls and then reoccurs also are encouraged to see a doctor because that could be a sign that they have been infected with a secondary bacteria.

The Washington Post and Reuters contributed to this article.

l Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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