Iowa has recorded its first influenza-related death this flu season.
The Iowa Department of Public Health reported an Eastern Iowa man, aged between 41 and 60 years, has died due to complications from the flu, the first in the 2018-19 influenza season.
Officials did not disclose when the death occurred, or a specific location, but noted the individual had an underlying condition or contributing factors.
“This death is an unfortunate reminder 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,” said Department of Public Health Medical Director Dr. Caitlin Pedati in a statement Friday.
Flu activity across the state has increased over the past three weeks, and cases of influenza has been reported in every region, public health officials stated.
According to the latest flu report from the department, as of the end of mid-December, there have been nearly 50 influenza-related hospitalizations.
Influenza, a respiratory illness caused by viruses, often comes on suddenly and typically lasts two to seven days.
Symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches.
Anyone can contract the flu, but people aged 65 years and older, people with certain chronic medical conditions, pregnant women and children younger than five years old are at risk for developing serious flu-related complications.
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State public health officials encourage Iowans to get the flu vaccine, if they haven’t already.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone aged six months and older should get the vaccine.
It takes up to two weeks after vaccination for the body to achieve full benefit against the flu virus, according to the Department of Public Health.
The department reported 271 Iowans died during the past flu season, more than double the reported number fatalities for the previous season.
The CDC estimates around 79,400 Americans died due to influenza in the 2017-18 season — more than the entire population of Iowa City in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Federal and state public health officials attributed this to the drop in influenza vaccination rates among adults in recent years.
Iowa saw a decline in its vaccination coverage, according to CDC estimations. The state had 43.6 percent coverage this past season — the lowest rate in eight years.
The previous season recorded a 49.1 percent coverage.
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