Flu cases on the rise

Feb 22nd, 2017 | By | Category: News and Features

Little Rock, Ark. – The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is urging Arkansans to get their flu shot this flu season. ADH is now reporting “widespread” flu activity around the state to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).   Clinics in Arkansas are experiencing a high level of flu and flu-like illnesses in the state, which is consistent with the high level of flu being seen throughout the country. “Widespread” activity means that cases have been reported in all areas of the state. As of today, there have been 19 flu-related deaths in Arkansas, all in adults. This is already more than the 11 flu-related deaths that were reported during the 2015-16 flu season.   “We have certainly seen an uptick in cases in the last few weeks,” said Dr. Dirk Haselow, State Epidemiologist. “It is not too late to get your flu vaccine. The vaccine takes up to two weeks to begin working fully, so getting the vaccine sooner rather than later is recommended. The good news is that this year’s vaccine seems to be a good match for the flu strains that are circulating.”  Flu symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle or body aches, fatigue and a headache. Symptoms may also include vomiting and diarrhea in children. Influenza antiviral prescription drugs can be used to treat or prevent influenza if started soon after symptoms begin.   Annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone aged six months old and older, with rare exceptions. People who are at a higher risk for complications from the flu are especially encouraged to get their flu shot. This includes: ·         Children aged two years old and younger ·         Adults aged 65 years and older ·         Pregnant women, or women up to two weeks after delivering a child ·         People with a suppressed immune system ·         People with chronic health problems, like asthma, diabetes, cancer and heart disease ·         Residents of nursing homes or other chronic care facilities   The flu shot is available in Local Health Units located in every county, and many doctor’s offices. Pharmacies also have flu shots available but do not give flu shots to children younger than seven years of age. You can find the LHU closest to you at http://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programsServices/localPublicHealthOffices/Pages/default.aspx.