DES MOINES — Two small outbreaks of seasonal flu in eastern Iowa earlier this summer are harbingers of things to come when the weather gets colder, an official with the Iowa Department of Public Health said Tuesday.
None has been reported in North Iowa.
“What it means is this particular strain is going to be around,” said Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, medical director for the IDPH.
The strain was H3N2. In addition, the H1N1 flu virus has still been present in Iowa in a few sporadic cases, Quinlisk said.
Both will be covered in the flu vaccine being manufactured for the 2010-2011 flu season, she said.
The occurrence of the flu so early in the season is “a little bit unusual,” Quinlisk acknowledged.
“Part of it is that we are doing better surveillance,” she said. “It means we’ll have two strains of flu going around this fall.”
The strain reported earlier this summer was H3N2. It affected a small number of people ages preschool to older folks in non-border counties in eastern Iowa, Quinlisk said.
A sports team and a daycare center were involved.
“The seasonal flu vaccine is starting to be distributed by the manufacturers,” Quinlisk said. “My advice to parents would be, when it’s in, get your kids vaccinated. We know it tends to afflict younger people.”
Betty Krones, RN, disease prevention specialist with the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health, said the county has not yet received its first shipment of flu vaccine. “We hope to have it by mid-September.”
“My goal is, as soon as we know that it’s coming, we’ll be scheduling our flu clinics,” Krones said.
Flu clinics are usually scheduled for the elderly first and then for the general public, including students in school, she said.
As of now, Krones said she does not know of any potential problems with receiving flu vaccine this season.
And although the occurrence of seasonal flu in North Iowa tends to be highest in February and March, it can start earlier, Krones said.
“Since we’ve had some cases already in Iowa, they’re encouraging physicians to keep an eye open.”