Flu activity is increasing in Iowa. The good news is that the prevalent strain should be thwarted if you got a flu shot.
Surveillance data in Iowa shows that while still relatively low, influenza activity is increasing and that the dominant strain is a potent one, according to the Polk County Health Department.
The dominant strain being seen, known as 2009 H1N1, posed a higher risk for complications such as pneumonia and hospitalizations in very young children and pregnant women. Fortunately, the department said, this strain was included in this year's flu vaccination.
"Flu season typically peaks in January and February and can continue into spring months. so it is not too late to get vaccinated," Polk County Health Department Director Rick Kozin said in a press release.
Influenza usually causes the most illness and complications in the elderly, very young and people with chronic health conditions, but in the past, the 2009 H1N1 strain caused the most illness among young children, young and middle-age adults, and pregnant women. Influenza is more than a stuffy nose or scratchy throat, it can cause fever, headaches and fatigue for up to two weeks and can be very contagious, even before people have symptoms.
"Because we're seeing mostly the 2009 H1N1 strain, this means that even healthy young adults can be at risk for getting very sick and passing it on to others," Kozin said. "The best protection remains the flu vaccination, but it is also extremely important to wash hands often and thoroughly and to stay home when you are sick."
However, don't count on everyone else getting vaccinated as your protection against the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at the beginning of flu season, only about 40 percent of Americans had received flu shots.