Influenza activity in Iowa has been increasing on most indicators since early December. The geographic spread of influenza has been widespread across Iowa for three weeks and the percentage of positive influenza tests reported by clinical labs has been above 15 percent.
Outpatient influenza-like illness during week 52 was the highest reported (5 percent) for at least six seasons and hospitalizations due to influenza continue to approach or surpass peak rates of recent seasons. Influenza B(Victoria lineage) has been the predominant virus detected at Iowa’s State Hygienic Laboratory, followed by influenza A(H1N1)pdm09.
A few influenza activity indicators dropped slightly this week; however, decreases are commonly seen during holiday weeks (i.e., schools are not in session, many medical clinics have reduced hours, and some patients may be more reluctant to seek medical care for more mild illnesses over the holidays) and it is too soon to tell if that trend will continue.
It is not too late to get vaccinated for influenza, as activity typically stays elevated through spring. Antiviral drugs are available to treat influenza and should be given as early as possible after symptom onset to people who are very sick and those who are at high risk of developing severe illness, such as pregnant women, young children, older people and people with certain long-term health conditions.