Iowa worst in nation for flu-like illnesses

With flu season fast approaching, doctors want to make sure children get a flu vaccine.
Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 1:29 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Fueled by a spike in COVID-19 cases, Iowa is seeing the most flu-related illnesses in the country and it’s not even close.

The Centers for Disease Control rated Iowa at the “Very High” level of Influenza-Like Illness, or ILI, activity. The next highest states are at a “low” level.

The ILI Activity is measured by the percentage of hospital visits that are due to illnesses with flu-like symptoms, including COVID-19. Iowa’s current percentage is 5.7% compared to the national average of 1.5%. Iowa’s ILI rate is significantly higher than previous years, too, when the percentage hovered around 1% this time of year.

The data, contained in the state’s weekly flu report, suggest the surge is largely due to COVID-19 increases since other monitoring for influenza and pneumonia remained low.

“However, the sites and/or counties reporting high ILI are reporting the vast majority of illness is due to COVID-19,” the report states.

Rhinovirus, the cause of the common cold, is the most common cause of flu-like symptoms reported in Iowa outside of the flu and COVID-19.

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