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Iowa reports first flu-related deaths

The Iowa Department of Public Health announced Friday the first flu-related deaths of the 2019-20 influenza season: an older (61-80 years old) central Iowa woman, and an elderly (81-plus years old) northwest Iowa woman.

Both women had underlying conditions or contributing factors.

This week flu activity in Iowa has increased to local spread, indicating that the virus is present in Iowa communities.

IDPH Medical Director Dr. Caitlin Pedati said these deaths are an unfortunate reminder that flu can be a serious illness.

“The flu virus does have the potential to cause severe illness and death, especially in the very young, very old, or those who have underlying health conditions,” Pedati said. “This is a great time to get the flu vaccine to prevent yourself and your loved ones from becoming sick before flu activity increases further.”

Webster County Public Health continues to make flu shots available daily between 2 to 4 p.m. at its main Fort Dodge location.

Residents wanting a flu shot may walk in or call ahead for an appointment.

The CDC recommends that essentially everyone over 6 months of age should receive the flu vaccine.

It takes up to two weeks after vaccination for the body to achieve full benefit against the flu virus.

The flu is a respiratory illness caused by viruses. Symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches. Illness typically lasts two to seven days, and often puts healthy people in bed for days.