SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

Flu hits Iowa early; officials spur vaccination efforts

Three flu cases have been identified in Iowa. | IDPH

The flu got an early start in Iowa, according to health officials.

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) said Tuesday that the State Hygienic Laboratory has identified three cases of influenza in the state. The cases are in Henry, Johnson and Polk counties.

Officials said flu activity is at a low level, but it is starting to circulate.

IDPH Medical Director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk said Ebola may be grabbing headlines, but people should be more concerned about the flu. An average of 300,000 Iowans get the flu every year, and it is a contributor to 1,000 deaths in the state annually, she said.

"There is no vaccine for Ebola, but there are several good vaccines for the flu. The most effective way to prevent influenza illness and death is the yearly flu vaccine," Quinlisk said.

The flu, a respiratory illness caused by viruses, includes symptoms like fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches. It typically lasts from two to seven days, but it can be serious or even deadly for the young or elderly or those with pre-existing health conditions.

Public health officials and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend annual vaccinations for everyone 6 months old and older. They also recommend that pregnant women be vaccinated to protect themselves and provide immunity for their baby.

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Iowa Department of Public Health 321 E 12th St Des Moines, IA 50319

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