The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced that three separate strains of influenza have already been identified in Iowa this flu season. Health officials say that the findings are unusual, but point out the vaccine currently available protects against all three strains.
"It is very rare for us to see three strains of influenza circulating this early in the season," said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. "Usually, we'll see only one or two strains at this point. This means, of course, that it's possible for an individual to get influenza three times this year. The good news is that this year's vaccine covers all three strains we've identified. Get one shot, dodge three bullets."
Accompanied by a jump in influenza cases in the last week, the findings are a clear indication that influenza season has started in Iowa. Also coincidental is the fact that this week is National Influenza Vaccination Week. IDPH joins local public health partners and the CDC in the December 5-11 observance and urges Iowans 6 months old and older to get their annual flu shot.
The 2010-2011 flu vaccine protects against an influenza A (H3N2) virus, an influenza B virus and the 2009 H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season. People vaccinated in the next week will be protected against influenza before the upcoming holidays.
To learn about influenza and seasonal vaccine, visit www.TheFluEndsWithUIowa.com. For more detailed information, including the weekly Iowa Influenza Surveillance Network report, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/adper/iisn.asp.