Three influenza strains in Iowa

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) said on Tuesday that A(H3N2), A(H1N1) and B, all three of the influenza strains in this year’s vaccine, are at large in Iowa.

Another strain of A(H3N2) that has not yet been identified in Iowa is circulating across the nation. The influenza strain has caused approximately half of the influenza cases just this year.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that this year’s vaccine is not protecting against the A(H3N2) strain as well as anticipated.

“In years when A(H3N2) viruses dominate, we tend to have more severe flu seasons with more hospitalizations and death,” Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, IDPH medical director, said. “Since antiviral medications only work well if taken very early in the illness - usually within 48 hours - it is even more important to see your doctor right away if you have flu symptoms so you can begin the medications.”

Influenza symptoms include nasal congestion, cough, sore throat, tiredness, fever, headache and body aches.

The influenza virus could last between two and seven days.

Health professionals in Iowa and across the nation continue to remind the public that the best way to prevent contracting the influenza virus is to receive regular vaccinations.

If someone already has the flu, he should ask his doctor for anti-viral medication prescriptions; these medicines are most effective if taken within 48 hours of the first symptoms of the flu.

Individuals especially at risk include the elderly, very young children, patients with chronic diseases such as lung or heart diseases, and pregnant women.

“Our message to Iowans is clear,” Quinlisk said. “The best way to prevent the flu is the influenza vaccine. The best way to lessen complications of the flu is antiviral medication. The best way to prevent the spread of flu is to stay home when ill.”

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Iowa Department of Public Health

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