CDC Loses Flu Surveillance Program, State's Still Running

By Forrest Saunders, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The government shutdown means this year's flu season might be harder to track nationally.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have lost funding for their flu surveillance program. That means they won't have weekly reports to track the spread and severity of the bug. They also won't be taking specimens for research and study.

Some infectious disease specialists worry that leave the nation vulnerable with a big blind spot, but local officials aren't concerned.

"We're here to protect the residents of Linn County and the residents of Iowa. That's not going to change because of the shutdown," said Heather Meador, a nurse with Linn County Public Health.

Meador said none of Public Health's flu services are being impacted by the shutdown. Vaccines have already been purchased for this year, and are plentiful. Plus, Iowa has its own flu surveillance system which is up and running and can be viewed online. Check out the link here: http://www.idph.state.ia.us/Cade/Influenza.aspx?pg=FluHome

"We have a great system in place," Meador said. "Right now, we're doing monthly reports, since we have not had a lot of flu activity at this point in time."

The state said the concern over the shutdown's impact on a lot of things, like flu season, can be chalked up to rumors coming out of Washington D.C. Officials encourage Iowans to be wary that some of what they're hearing could be scare tactics.

"Both parties and the President appear to be focusing, in my opinion, a little too much time on what kind of sound bite they're going to use against the other person," said the Director of the Iowa Department of Management Dave Roederer.

Flu season typically lasts through the winter in the U.S. Health experts said the best ways to keep from spreading the flu haven't changed. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. Keep hands clean. Stay home if you're feeling sick.
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