Health

First flu-related deaths of the season reported in Iowa

Two women had underlying conditions or contributing factors, officials say

State health care officials urge everyone to consider receiving a flu vaccine. (The Gazette).
State health care officials urge everyone to consider receiving a flu vaccine. (The Gazette).

The deaths of two older Iowans mark the first flu-related deaths of the season, state public health officials said Friday.

The two — a central Iowa woman between the ages of 61 and 80 and a northwest Iowa woman aged 81 or older — died due of flu-related causes, Iowa Department of Public Health officials said Friday.

Both women had underlying conditions or contributing factors, they said.

Fourteen influenza-related hospitalizations had been reported by Nov. 2, they said, though only a small percentage of the rapid influenza tests sent to the State Hygienic Lab have come back positive.

“The flu virus does have the potential to cause severe illness and death, especially in the very young, very old, or those who have underlying health conditions,” Dr. Caitlin Pedati, the health department’s medical director, said in a statement.

Children younger than 2, adults aged 65 and older, pregnant women and those with chronic medical conditions or weak immune systems are most likely to experience complications from the flu.

“This is a great time to get the flu vaccine to prevent yourself and your loved ones from becoming sick before flu activity increases further,” Pedati said.

The flu, a respiratory illness caused by viruses, typically lasts two to seven days. Symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches.

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Those with symptoms but who are normally healthy are encouraged to stay home until they feel better, to cover their coughs and to wash their hands frequently.

To learn more about influenza in Iowa, visit idph.iowa.gov/influenza.

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

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