The waiting rooms in many of Iowa’s hospitals are packed with people suffering from the flu. Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) medical director Patricia Quinlisk says it’s critical for those who are at high risk for complications and those who are suffering from more severe symptoms — such as trouble breathing — to contact their health care provider.
“This year, it’s especially important that you contact your health care provider quickly because we know the strain of the flu that’s going around right now can be quite serious. It’s causing some people to be hospitalized and even some deaths,” Quinlisk says. The IDPH has confirmed two recent influenza-related deaths of children in Iowa, while a third is under investigation. The two confirmed victims, a 14-year-old girl from Redfield and a 3-year-old girl from Elk Horn, were both said to be healthy and had flu shots.
Dcotor Quinlisk is urging parents to contact their doctor right away if their child shows symptoms of the flu. “The antiviral medication that can be given to people to help them combat the flu has to be given within 24 to 48 hours within the onset of illness for it to be effective,” Quinlisk says. Nationally, the flu outbreak has been declared an epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Quinlisk says it’s not too late for Iowans to get the flu shot, even though the vaccine it’s not entirely effective in treating the strain known as influenza A.
“While the flu shot is not 100-percent effective, it’s one of the best tools we have to provide you protection from getting seriously ill or dying of the flu,” Quinlisk says. In addition to vaccination, Quinlisk recommends following the “three Cs” for preventing flu illness: clean your hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes, and confine germs by staying home when ill.