Influenza is in the air, lying in plain sight in all the coughs, sneezes and runny noses of our family members, coworkers, neighbors and friends.
And after a quiet start, the 2018-19 flu season has turned fierce and deadly in Iowa as influenza settles like a bad storm over the Hawkeye State. However, how bad Iowa’s flu storm gets this season is in our hands.
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced the state’s first confirmed flu-related death in early January: a middle-aged Eastern Iowa man who had underlying conditions and contributing factors.
“This death is an unfortunate reminder the flu virus does have the potential to cause severe illness and death, especially in very young, very old, or those who have underlying health conditions,” IDPH Medical Director Dr. Caitlin Pedati said.
It’s the most unfortunate turn of seasonal fortunes for the state. After the state endured its worst flu season in over a decade last year, Iowa’s flu season came in like a lamb with 10 weeks of low influenza activity this season. Alas, Iowa’s flu activity and hospitalizations have spiked each of the last three weeks. Influenza has been reported in every region of the state. H1N1 is the state’s most prevalent flu strain.
The flu, a respiratory illness caused by viruses, comes on strong and sometimes with little warning. Symptoms include fever, headaches, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches. Lasting anywhere from two to seven days, influenza can put healthy people in bed for days.
The flu killed 270 Iowans last season, the IDPH reports.
Remember, there’s no such time as too late in the season to get a flu shot. The U.S. Centers for Disease Controls recommends essentially every Iowan over six months receive the flu vaccine. It takes up to two weeks after vaccination for the body to achieve full benefit against the flu virus, so health officials recommends unvaccinated people get the shot as soon as possible.
Because it’s not just your health you are protecting.
“(People who get vaccinated) help prevent the spread of it for those who can’t get vaccinated and for those who are at higher risk of complications,” Nurse practitioner Lindy Nordstrom told Davenport’s KCCI television.
When it comes to this season’s flu storm, take no chances with your health. For influenza is a vaccine-preventable invention.