The Iowa Department of Public Health has confirmed the first case of flu in the state.State Epidemiologist Patti Quinlisk says the first case is in a child in eastern Iowa. Doctor Quinlisk says they now expect the flu to spread through the state. She says they’re encouraging people who’re at a high risk of having complications from the flu to get a vaccination, as there is vaccine in the state. Quinlisk says the child with the flu is ill, but not hospitalized. She says now’s not the time to hold back for people in the high risk group who haven’t gotten a flu shot. The high-risk people are anyone 65 years and older, children between six and 23 months, anyuone between two and 64 with chronic medical problems, parents and caregivers. She says people who’re at risk of transmitting the flu, like health care professionals, should also get a shot. Quinlisk says the flu case is what’s known as “influenza A, fugian strain,” the same strain that hit Iowa last year. She says it’s what other states are seeing. She says most people have seen the A fugian strain, and there have been a few cases of “B strain” also. Quinlisk says both strains are covered by the vaccine. She says there’s another strain of A that’s also covered by the vaccine, but it’s not been seen in any states yet. Quinlisk says the first case is a little later than normal. She says we typically see the first case in the first week of December, so she says it’s not that atypical. She says compared to last year, when the flu came very early, it is much later. The flu season got off to an early start last year and was considered a bad one. Doctor Quinlisk says there are some signs that we may not see a repeat. She says this is the same strain of flu found in Iowa last year, which oftens means we’ll have a less severe year. She says the Southern Hemisphere has a milder year, and she says the late start could be another indication. Quinlisk says she’d predict a moderately severe year for the flu, compared to last year’s very, very severe year. But, even with that said, Quinlisk says it’s no reason to let down our guard. She says the thing to remember is that once we have flu in the state, it takes awhile to get going. She says if you go in and get a flu shot now, you’ll be protected. She says the peak of the flu season won’t come until sometime in January. Quinlisk says those who don’t get a flu shot should continue practicing good hand washing and other techniques to avoid spreading the flu.
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