The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Features

February 6, 2014

Virus sweeping its way across state

CLINTON Feeling feverish, coughing, sneezing and severe aches and pains in the body are all common symptoms of the influenza virus, but just because the symptoms are there doesn't mean the flu strain is.

However, according to the Iowa Department of Health influenza surveillance network, Iowa recently has been upgraded from regional to widespread flu activity so infection possibility has risen in a little more than a week.

"Right now we're in the middle of the flu season and so far we're doing pretty well because Iowa overall had a low flu rate for the nation until this week," Clinton community health manager Michelle Cullen said. "It looks to me that Northwest Iowa has been hit the hardest and that's good for us but that could just mean that it could take a little longer to get to the eastern side of the state."

In order to monitor the influenza-like illness (ILI) data statewide, the surveillance network averages the amount of school absences because of ILI cases per region.

Of the six regions of the state, region six where Clinton County is located has not reported a single school that has an absentee rate higher than 10 percent which, according to Cullen, is a good statistic to record this time of year.

"Usually by now we've got one or two that exceed that rate. The Northwestern region alone has seven already," Cullen said. "I think the reason our area has not gotten hit as heavily as others is because we have a lot of big campaigns to encourage flu vaccinations."

Those campaigns have pushed area residents to get vaccinated for the influenza virus early in the season to prevent the possible, life-threatening illness.

Several local health care providers, including Wagner Pharmacy in Clinton, offer the flu vaccine to ensure residents are protected.

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