DES MOINES --- State public health officials have reported the first pediatric death in Iowa due to influenza.
The influenza-associated death of a young Iowan occurred the first week of March and is the first of this flu season, according to a release from the Iowa Department of Public Health. No other details were released.
While activity is not as high this season as it was during the 2017-18 season, public health officials are reporting an increase in many measures of activity in recent weeks.
“Almost 60 percent of the 449 influenza-related hospitalizations reported this season occurred in the last four weeks, and more than half of 20 influenza-related deaths reported this season occurred in the last two weeks,” according to an Iowa Department of Public Health release.
Public health officials also reported that half the 32 outbreaks in long-term care centers began in February.
According to the most recent flu activity report, there has been 14 influenza-associated deaths and more than 330 influenza-associated hospitalizations by the week ending Feb. 23.
By comparison, the 2017-18 influenza season saw 29 influenza-related deaths in Iowa and nearly 600 hospitalizations by Jan. 13.
The dominant virus this season has been influenza A, according to the Department of Public Health flu report. The strain H1N1 has been the cause for the majority of reported cases this season, but positive tests for influenza A (H3) has been on the rise in recent weeks.
Outpatient providers also reported an increase at this time in the number of patients seen with an influenza-like illness. Of the total patient visits in the week ending Feb. 23, more than 2 percent of patients were reported as having flu-like symptoms.
Given the increase in activity, public health officials warn the current flu season is not over for this year and it’s not too late to get a flu shot.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone aged six months and older should receive the vaccine. It takes up to two weeks after vaccination for the body to achieve full benefit against the flu virus.
Individuals who are very young, very old or pregnant or whose immune systems are compromised are most vulnerable to becoming seriously ill from influenza.
Symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and muscle aches. Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, are more common in children than adults.
In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include trouble breathing, not waking up or interacting, and flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with a fever and a worse cough.
Individuals are encouraged to cover their mouths when coughing, wash their hands frequently and to stay home when they are sick.