DES MOINES, Iowa -- Eight more Iowans have died after getting the flu, bringing the total for this season to 14 deaths. Experts say those who passed away were elderly, and most had underlying health issues.
There haven’t been any deaths of our youngest Iowans, which is a sign that parents are vaccinating early on in childhood.
With the brutal cold keeping a lot of people indoors and parents bringing their children in close contact with other kids, many say they aren't taking any chances.
“Our doctor recommended it, so I feel if that's what they suggest then that's what I'm going to do,” said Laura Deaton.
“I know I can’t control all circumstances and I don't know if everyone else got vaccinated, but I can take care of my kids,” said Nina Moser.
Medical experts say that's the best thing anyone can do, especially because cases of the flu are now widespread both in the city of Des Moines and statewide.
“The last couple of weeks it's picked up. Last week was our most active week for cases of influenza in the hospital, we had about 18 just last week,” said Jeff Brock, a Mercy pharmacy specialist with an expertise in infectious diseases.
Brock said the hospital has had about 50 flu patients so far this season, but it can be difficult for people to identify when they actually have the flu and when they should get to a doctor.
“The flu hits people hard. You could be just not feeling the greatest in the morning, you might feel like you're getting kind of a cold, and by early afternoon your whole body hurts, you have fevers, you got a cough, your nose is running. Anyone with chronic health conditions, particularly heart conditions or lung conditions, probably should be seen by a provider,” said Brock.
However, some can get the flu confused with other illnesses like the norovirus, which is also going around.
“It's rapid onset of severe diarrhea and vomiting. Generally, with influenza, you don't get those symptoms,” said Brock.
Aside from the vaccine, experts say it's important for people to wash their hands regularly and wear medical masks if they are not vaccinated. Doctors do have anti-viral medication that can be prescribed to patients who are diagnosed with the flu between 48 and 72 hours of coming down with the illness.