County health board reports lower flu numbers

Leading health officials in the county are reporting a slower flu season so far this year as compared to cases last season.

Marshall County Public Health Nurse Pat Thompson said during a board of health meeting Tuesday there were 42 lab-confirmed cases of flu in January, which is down from the 85 cases reported in January 2013.

“We are lower than last year October through January,” Thompson said.

While this lab number doesn’t reflect all of the flu cases in the county, it can serve as a barometer that indicates the season is not as rough as last year, she said.

Board of health member, Dr. David Thomas, of McFarland Clinic, said the slower season has been noticed in his office.

“In the clinic, we’ve had a few (cases), but it hasn’t been swarming with it,” Thomas said.

Thompson still encouraged those who have not received their flu shot to get one. The public health department still has the vaccine available.

In other discussion, Thomas said the board should talk at a future meeting about supporting a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. The issue could be brought up in the statehouse since currently the water vapor cigarettes which use tobacco are not banned to minors.

“That would be a reasonable thing for us to take a stand on,” Thomas said. “If our mission is to be the healthiest county in Iowa then maybe we ought to take a lead on that.”

The next regular board of health meeting is at 10 a.m. April 8 in the Marshall County Courthouse.