The start of a new year always brings promise and hope. There are many school officials that are especially hopeful that the holiday break helped quell the dramatic number of flu cases local schools experienced before schools were dismissed for Christmas.
The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is now reporting that 12 Arkansans have died as a result of influenza.
Last week, Arkansas reported “Widespread” activity to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for geographic spread of influenza, and “High” or 10/10 for Influenza like Illness (ILI) intensity.
Since October 1, 2017, over 7,000 positive influenza tests have been reported to the ADH online database by health care providers. Seventy counties in Arkansas have reported influenza cases.
The Department of Health is urging Arkansans to stay home if they have a fever or other symptoms that could be flu-related. They also remind everyone to practice good hand hygiene, get a flu shot, and to think of flu if there is fever or cough to prevent the spread.
Going to work, school, or even holiday events while contagious could spread the flu. People are generally contagious one to two days before symptoms start and five to seven days after symptoms start.
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.
The twelve flu-related deaths this flu season in Arkansas all occurred with people over the age of 65. 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
Health and medical officials recommend 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.
Is there a particular topic you'd like to know more about concerning Arkansas laws or how our state government works? Let me know!
The Fiscal Session of the 90th General Assembly officially begins February 12 and lasts for 30 days, unless an extension is voted on by members. Next week the Joint Budget Committee begins pre-fiscal session hearings. Other committee meetings are also ongoing and are open to the public. For a schedule of these meetings and other events at the State Capitol, go to www.arkansashouse.org.
For more information about disease activity in our state, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov.
It remains my great honor and privilege to represent the people of District 9 in southeast Arkansas in the House of Representatives. Please don't hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance. I may be reached at (870) 460-0773, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am also on Facebook @BurchforAR and have other information available at leanneburch.com. I look forward to hearing from you.