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ADH continues to see a high number of flu cases
Little Rock, Ark. – The Arkansas Department of Health is continuing to see a high number of flu cases and flu-related deaths this flu season. As of today, ADH is reporting 94 flu-related deaths this flu season. Two of those deaths were children. ADH is urging Arkansans to take steps to prevent the flu.
It is not too late to get your flu shot this flu season. A flu shot is the best protection from the flu, even in years where the flu shot is less effective than other years. Other important ways you can help prevent the spread of flu include: washing your hands, avoiding people who are sick, coughing into your elbow, avoiding touching your face and eyes, and staying home when you are sick. It is also important to have healthy habits, like getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and stopping smoking.
“While we are likely near the peak of the season, we expect to continue seeing many cases of the flu and even more flu-related deaths,” said Dr. Nathaniel Smith, ADH Director and State Health Officer. “We typically report the majority of the flu-related deaths in the second half of the season. If that is the case this year, we are on track to see more flu-related deaths than we have in the last 17 seasons.”
Earlier today, Governor Asa Hutchinson joined Dr. Smith and Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Greg Bledsoe at a press conference to give an update on the flu season.
“I am very concerned about the large number of flu-related deaths in Arkansas,” Governor Hutchinson said. “But you can still take steps to protect yourself from the flu, and I urge you to get a flu shot. When you get a flu shot, you are protecting everyone you come in contact with as well as yourself.”
Flu symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, muscle or body aches, fatigue and a headache. Symptoms may also include vomiting and diarrhea in children. Influenza antiviral prescription drugs, like Tamiflu, can be used to treat or prevent influenza if started soon after symptoms begin.
People who are at a higher risk for complications from the flu include:
- 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
It is recommended that everyone aged 6 months and older get the flu shot every year. It is especially important for pregnant women and others at high risk for complications. 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.