Influenza arrives in the Midwest - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Influenza arrives in the Midwest

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) - Believe it or not, flu season has arrived. It may be a little later than last year, but it's here. Why so late? It has a lot to do with the H1N1 outbreak in the fall of 2009.

"Last year a lot of people were pretty compliant with getting vaccinated," said Dr. Bertha Ayi. And since so many people were vaccinated, it's taken a while for that flu bug to rear it's ugly head. But rear it's head it has. "Just this week ending of January 15th, the rates have doubled in Iowa and across the country," said Dr. Ayi. And it's not just one strain of the flu. Three different kinds of flu have arrived in the Midwest. The good news, all three flu strains are well matched with the strains in the flu vaccine this year. That means if you got the shot... you shouldn't get influenza, or the worst you will get is a milder case. But if you didn't roll up your sleeve. "Those who haven't received the vaccine can actually get influenza up to three times, because you can get the H1N1, you can get the H3N2, both influenza A and then you can get influenza B," said Dr. Ayi. That's why it's so important for everyone, especially healthcare workers, to get vaccinated.

Need a little more incentive to get the shot? Listen to the symptoms. "Last year there was a lot of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea with influenza. Same thing this year, but fever, headaches, runny nose, cough; those are the things to look out for," said Dr. Ayi. Now, the influenza vaccine is the first, and foremost, line of defense against the virus. But other ways to help prevent the spread, practice good hand washing, cover your cough, stay home if you are sick, and go to the doctor if your symptoms keep getting worse. Remember, it's just the start of flu season... and it could go on for several weeks. So don't let your guard down... but keep down germs the best you can.

Healthbeat 4 Multi-Media Journalist: Christy Batien

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