116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES - The state's flu activity still is low, but two strains of the virus are already circulating, public health officials said Tuesday.
'This is the perfect time to get your flu vaccination,” said Iowa Department of Public Health 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.”
Quinlisk added that the early identification of several strains circulating could be an indication that this flu season will be more severe than typical.
According to the statewide flu activity summary for the week ending on Oct. 18, which is the most recent data, there have been three influenza-associated hospitalizations. However, no schools have reported a 10 percent or greater absenteeism due to illness.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends annual flu vaccinations for everyone 6 months of age and older. It is especially important for young children, people 65 and older and pregnant women.
This season's vaccines cover three to four strains of flu.
The flu is a serious respiratory illness that hospitalizes about 200,000 people nationally each year. Symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches.
The IDPH estimates 300,000 Iowans get the flu every year. Additionally, the flu and its complication of pneumonia cause an average of 1,000 deaths annually in Iowa.
The flu is not a reportable disease, which means health care providers are not required to notify the public health department each time a patient tests positive for influenza.
IDPH does conduct year-round statewide influenza surveillance through the Iowa Influenza Surveillance Network. This surveillance indicates what types of influenza viruses are circulating and how widespread the flu is.