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Respiratory Illness Impact on Siouxland

The CDC reports widespread flu activity and Siouxland District Health is seeing an increase in our area.

Kristen Beal is the Infection Preventionist and Patient Safety Officer at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s.

“We went from 17% positive test rate to a, 40% test rate over the holidays and maintained that for a couple of weeks and now we’re at a 33% test rate this week.”

Beal says the hospital’s emergency room is busy treating people respiratory illnesses, with influenza B being the most common strain.  However, RSV has been more severe for people across all age groups. 

Credit UnityPoint Health-St. Luke's

She shares advice on how to prevent the spread of germs.  

“Cover your cough.  Make sure you’re doing good great hand hygiene.  Singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice is how you know you have been washing long enough.   If you don’t have soap and water readily available, use hand sanitizer.”

Beal says flu shots help as well even if it doesn’t cover the strain you might catch.

“If it’s 40% effective that means you’re 40% more protected than someone who didn’t get it.  So, I might be effective enough to keep someone out of the hospital.”    

Beal says children can be more vulnerable to respiratory illness.

“The little, little kids their airways are so much smaller when they get inflammation in those lower lungs, it can cause problems so much faster and more severe.”

Beal says if a child seems to be having any difficulty breathing seek medical help right away.