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Influenza activity increasing in Jasper County

HOMENEWS & EVENTSPRESS RELEASES

January 5, 2015

Surveillance by the Iowa Department of Public Health and Skiff Home Care/Jasper County Public Health, and testing by the State Hygienic Laboratory indicate flu activity is increasing. The flu season typically peaks in February and can last as late as May. “If you have flu symptoms, help out your family, friends and co-workers by staying home to avoid spreading the virus,” said Skiff Home Care/Jasper County Public Health Director Tammy Stapp. “It’s also important to remember to cover your coughs and sneezes and clean your hands frequently to help yourself and others stay healthy.”

In the last reporting week, the Iowa Influenza Surveillance Network indicated 130 influenza-related hospitalizations statewide, mostly among those aged 64 or greater. Several flu outbreaks have been reported in long-term care facilities, especially in central and western Iowa. The most common flu virus circulating is the influenza A(H3N2) strain, although four different strains have been identified. In years when A(H3N2) viruses dominate, the flu season tends to be more severe with more hospitalizations and deaths. Based upon CDC’s national estimates, an average of 300,000 Iowans get the flu every year and, together, flu and its complication of pneumonia cause an average of 1,000 deaths yearly in Iowa.

The flu vaccine is the best defense against getting influenza; however, because some of the A(H3N2) viruses may only be partially covered in the vaccine, it’s even more important to take personal actions to help prevent the spread of illness. Remember the 3Cs:
• cover your coughs and sneezes
• clean your hands frequently
• contain germs by staying home when ill

Anti-viral medications are an important second line of defense to treat the flu in people at highest risk of developing more severe illness. Anti-viral medications can make flu illness shorter and reduce the risk of ending up in the hospital or dying from influenza. Antivirals work best if started  48 hours or sooner from when flu symptoms begin.

The flu is a respiratory illness caused by viruses. The flu comes on suddenly and symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches. Illness typically lasts two to seven days. Influenza may cause severe illness or even death in people such as the very young or very old, or those who have underlying health conditions. (The “stomach bug” which causes diarrhea and vomiting is not caused by the influenza virus but usually by norovirus; thus, the flu vaccine will not protect you against this illness.)

Contact your health-care provider or the Jasper County Public Health Department to find out where the vaccine is available in your community or use the Flu Vaccine Finder at www.flu.gov.

Skiff Medical Center
204 N. 4th Ave E.
Newton, Iowa 50208
Phone: (641) 792-1273
Toll-free: (888) 792-1273

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Skiff Medical Center, a member of Mercy Health Network, is located in Newton, Iowa. We provide services to Jasper County residents in all major health areas, including general surgery, orthopedic surgery, radiology, obstetrics, emergency medicine, hospice, home care, laboratory, respiratory, audiology, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. The Skiff Specialty Clinic hosts more than 20 physicians specializing in cardiology, dermatology, ENT, gastroenterology, nephrology, neurology, oncology, pulmonology and urology.
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