Des Moines, Iowa — The medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health confirms the flu is spreading much faster than usual this season. Epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati says there were nearly 700 confirmed flu cases statewide through the end of December, compared to only about 150 a year ago.

Dr. Pedati says the state’s flu activity level is compiled by combining all sorts of data from a variety of sources.

At this point a year ago, one Iowan had died from flu complications, but this season, the number is far higher.

While January and February are typically the peak months, Iowa’s flu activity level is already at its highest point — widespread — but Pedati says there are still simple ways to protect yourself.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list Iowa among the 34 states where the spread of the flu this season is considered widespread. While the flu numbers are significantly higher this season compared to last year, Pedati notes this season is still tracking below the 2017-2018 season, which was particularly bad.

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