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Eight more flu-related deaths reported in Iowa this week

Season expected to get worse, health officials say

Linn County Public Health building, 501 13th St. NW, photographed Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, in northwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette-KCRG)
Linn County Public Health building, 501 13th St. NW, photographed Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, in northwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette-KCRG)

Eight more influenza-related deaths were reported by state health officials Friday, underscoring the seriousness of this year’s strain to those most vulnerable to it.

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced eight deaths occurred this week, bringing the total number of flu-related deaths to 14 since Oct. 1, 2017.

The average age of the victims was 85, and lived across all regions of the state.

The prominent strain this year is AH3N2, which IDPH Medical Director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk said is known to cause serious illness, hospitalization and deaths.

Those susceptible are the elderly, those who are very young or those with a weakened immune system.

According to the latest flu report from the IDPH, about 230 people have been hospitalized due to the flu since Oct. 1, 2017. During that same period in 2016, there were 87 influenza-associated hospitalizations.

Quinlisk said it’s likely Iowa will see a rise in influenza diagnoses, since this year’s peak isn’t expected to be reached until the end of January or the beginning of February.

“It’s not too late yet to get a flu shot,” Quinlisk said. “Getting vaccinated now will still offer protection from serious disease, hospitalization and death for most of the flu season. We will very likely continue to see the flu for months.”

For more information on influenza, visit idph.iowa.gov/influenza/faq.

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

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