Health official: Worst flu season Iowa has seen in years - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Health official: Worst flu season Iowa has seen in years

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

A top Iowa health official calls this the worst flu season the state has seen in many years, and the virus will likely keep going around until April.

The state gets data from 21 of Iowa's 118 hospitals. At those hospitals, there were 141 hospitalizations due to influenza in the first week of January.

Officials say there were never more than 20 hospitalizations during that same week in the past few years.

University of Iowa health care providers report an increase of 5 to 10 percent of patients with flu-like symptoms seeking care.

Unless symptoms are severe, providers recommend that patients see their primary care physician.

Nationally, the flu has reached epidemic levels, with 47 states experiencing widespread flu activity.

The flu vaccine is reportedly 60 percent effective against the strains circulating this year. While this means some who are vaccinated will still get the flu, experts say the illness likely won't be as severe.

Antiviral drugs like Tamiflu are working against the flu to help shorten the amount of time people feel sick.

Those still wanting a flu shot may have to call ahead to more than one location to find one.

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