The flu virus is progressing in Iowa, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) said Monday.
After weeks of low to moderate flu levels in the state, the department reported that flu activity is increasing. The most current report shows cases being confirmed by the State Hygienic Lab in every region of the state. The flu is now categorized as widespread, which is the highest level.
The Iowa Influenza Surveillance Network has recently reported 130 influenza-related hospitalizations, mostly among individuals age 64 and older. Several outbreaks have also been reported in long-term care facilities, especially in the central and western parts of Iowa. The most common circulating flu virus is the A(H3N2). It is estimated that 300,000 Iowa natives acquire the flu each year and 1,000 die from the virus.
The flu vaccine is recommended to prevent the virus. Since some of the A(H3N2) viruses may only be partially covered in the vaccine, it’s important to remember the 3Cs: Cover (coughs and sneezes), Clean (hands) and Contain (germs).
Antiviral medications are a second line of defense to treat the flu and can make the illness shorter and reduce the risk of hospitalization or death.
The lifespan of the flu illness is typically two to seven days.
Flu does not qualify as a reportable disease in Iowa, meaning doctors are not required to notify the IDPH each time a patient tests positive for the virus. The IDPH performs year-round influenza surveillance through the Iowa Influenza Surveillance Network.