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Dubious distinction: Q-C ranks 10th on national flu chart
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Dubious distinction: Q-C ranks 10th on national flu chart

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ROCK ISLAND — The Quad-Cities currently has the 10th highest rate of influenza in the nation, according to this week's Walgreens Flu Index.

The weekly report details state and market information on flu activity, but does not provide specific numbers. The highest flu concentration was in the Brownsville, Texas, area. Other communities with higher flu concentrations, according to Walgreens, are Lafayette, La.; Corpus Christi, Port Arthur and Dallas, Texas; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; and Lincoln and Omaha, Neb.

The Quad-Cities also was rated as having the fourth fastest developing flu concentration, behind Brownsville, Port Arthur and Corpus Christi.

Janet Hill, chief operating officer at the Rock Island County Health Department, said it is difficult to calculate the exact number of people in the Quad-Cities suffering from the flu because, while the disease is reportable in Iowa, it is not a reportable disease for Illinois health officials.

The Iowa Influenza Surveillance Network confirmed that influenza activity is increasing in Iowa, with the spread of flu being widespread. In its Jan. 15-21 report, the network said influenza A (H3) was the most frequently identified influenza virus type reported by public health laboratories.

"The three things to consider around this time are the three C's: covering your cough, cleanliness and containment, which would be staying at home when you're feeling sick," Ms. Hill said.

On Jan. 8, officials with Genesis Health System and UnityPoint Health-Trinity asked that only "well" people visit hospitalized patients because of the flu.

"The best preventive measures to protect against seasonal influenza are a flu vaccination and good hand hygiene," said Lisa Caffery, infection control coordinator for Genesis. "We would also suggest that anyone with flu symptoms stay home from work or school."

Each flu season, about 200,000 individuals are hospitalized. More than 35,000 are believed to die from flu-related illnesses. In addition to the typical flu symptoms — fever, chills, fatigue and nausea — influenza can cause more serious complications such as pneumonia and may worsen chronic disease such as heart failure, diabetes and asthma.

"It's not too late to get the flu shot — the best way to prevent it," Ms. Hill said. "It doesn't always work, but the best defense is to immunize."

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