Thursday, October 25, 2012

Influenza Season Begins Early in Iowa

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDHP) reports sporadic influenza activity in Iowa already. Since September 2012, the State Hygienic Laboratory has identified three strains of influenza in Iowa – influenza A (H3N2), 2009 H1N1, and influenza B. 

Iowans can protect themselves from the influenza virus by following disease prevention steps including receiving the vaccination. Grinnell Regional Public Health is currently hosting clinics in the county to give many opportunities for individuals to be vaccinated.

IDPH urges all Iowans over 6 months of age to receive their yearly seasonal influenza vaccine. Surveillance by IDPH influenza sentinel sites shows the flu appears to be particularly spreading among children.

While the flu vaccine is the best defense against getting influenza, it’s also important to take personal actions to help prevent the spread of illness. Remember the 3Cs: Cover your coughs and sneezes; Clean your hands frequently; and Contain germs by staying home when ill.

The flu is a respiratory illness caused by viruses. The flu comes on suddenly and symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, and body aches. Illness typically lasts two to seven days. Influenza may cause severe illness or even death in people such as the very young or very old, or those who have underlying health conditions.

Four vaccination clinics will be held in Poweshiek County:
Oct. 25      9:30 to 11:30 a.m.            Mayflower Community, Carmen Center
Oct. 29      3 to 6 p.m.                       Montezuma School, elementary library
Nov. 1       10 to 11 a.m.                    Seeland Park, Tenplex lobby, Grinnell
Nov. 8       11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.      Grinnell United Methodist Church
For more information about where and what kind of influenza is in Iowa, go to 

What should you do to protect yourself and your family from the flu?
·        Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 15-20 seconds. Wash your hands before and after eating, going to the bathroom, or touching pets, phones, or keyboards.
·        Use hand sanitizer. If you cannot wash your hands, alcohol-based hand cleaner may be used if your hands do not look dirty.
·        Stay home from work or school when you are ill, and encourage others to do the same.
·        Stay away from others you know are ill. You are less likely to become ill if you stay at least three feet from someone who is coughing or sneezing.
·        Vaccination. The first line of defense against influenza is to get your influenza vaccination each year.
·        Contact your health care provider. If you experience flu-like symptoms contact your physician. Your physician may be able to prescribe antiviral medications for you to shorten the duration of the illness and prevent transmission.
·        Clean frequently and appropriately. Frequently clean commonly used surfaces, such as door handles, handrails, eating surfaces, toys, and phones. Commercial disinfectants or bleach solutions should be used. (Mixing ¼ cup bleach with 1 gallon of water makes bleach solution. Mix this solution fresh daily) Some viruses can live from 20 minutes up to two hours or more on some surfaces. 

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