Iowa Child Dies From Flu, Clinics Seeing More Cases

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A child has died from the flu in Iowa.

The Iowa Department of Public Health says the child-- identified only as being between newborn and 17, was otherwise healthy before the virus.

As of early this month, 10 children have died from the flu across the country.

The Center for Disease Control says this year's most common flu strain, H1N1, is hitting children especially hard, saying it is not too late to get vaccinated.

Officials at the CDC also say there are several adults who also likely died from influenza.

But officially, all of Iowa remains in the Regional category of influenza which is one of the lower rankings. In the entire upper Midwest, with the exception of Michigan, the other states are all reporting widespread flu outbreaks.

Dr. James Matsuda, a pediatrian at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, has no real explanation for why the outbreak in Iowa is at a lower level compared to surrounding states. He says the flu does peak at different times in different states, so it's not that unusual.

However, he expects that ranking to change in the next CDC influenza survey due out Friday.

Dr. Matsuda said based on his conversation with urgent care physicians and others, more patients are beginning to come into clinics reporting flu-like symptoms.

Dr. Mark Reinertson, who specializes in pediatrics at the Unity Point Pediatrics Clinic, agreed more patients are reporting to clinics with suspected influenza.

At St. Luke's Hospital, 91 positive lab results for influenza were found in samples sent to the state Hygienic Lab in the month of December. So far in January, the positive lab total is 62. That suggests more cases are beginning to turn up in Iowa.

Dr. Reinertson said the flu vaccine in use this year seems to be a pretty good match for the exact strain of flu being reported.

Health officials say with the later arrival of larger numbers of cases, it's still not too late to get vaccinated. The flu vaccine is recommended for anyone over six months of age.
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