Influenza Numbers Rise In Iowa

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

While this year's influenza season has been relatively mild in Iowa and across the nation, there has been a rise in influenza activity in children and adolescents over the past two weeks, particularly in school-age children.

High rates of absence due to illness were reported by more than 15 schools across Iowa last week. "It's important for parents to know the symptoms of flu so they can keep their children home when they are ill," said Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. "Keeping ill children at home and away from other children and teachers will help control the spread of illness."

Children with influenza typically have a fever of over 101 degrees F, along with a cough and/or sore throat and should be kept home while suffering from these symptoms. Influenza is often a significant illness, and most children don't feel well for five to seven days, although younger children may be sick for as long as 10 days. Children ill with the flu may return to school once the fever has subsided and the child feels up to it. Some children may cough for several days after all the other symptoms have gone away. Parents who suspect their child may have influenza should:


* Contact their health care provider if their child has flu symptoms, especially if a high fever develops or symptoms are severe or last several days. Treatment may be available if started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.

* Give their child plenty of fluids and encourage them to rest.

* Keep their child isolated from others, including family members, while they are ill. Parents should consider designating one parent or caregiver to care for the child while they are ill. Designating a caregiver may help limit the spread of illness.

* Keep their child home from school, child care, sports, social events and other activities until the fever has subsided and the child is feeling better.

Influenza may lead to more serious infections, such as pneumonia, and in rare instances, can cause death in children. In the last decade in Iowa, many children have become seriously ill with the flu and some have died; these deaths have occurred in previously healthy children.