The number of influenza-related deaths in Arkansas continues to climb with the Arkansas Department of Health reporting 15 deaths this flu season. That’s up from 13 the previous week.

None of those deaths in Arkansas were pediatric, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates a total of 2,900 flu deaths have occurred nationwide including 27 pediatric deaths reported this season.

During flu season, the ADH produces a Weekly Influenza Report for clinicians. The report provides information on flu activity in the state. The report also compares influenza-like-illness (ILI) in Arkansas to activity in the U.S. ADH receives reports of only a fraction of flu cases since it only requires reports of hospitalizations, deaths, and outbreaks. Therefore, it is important to understand that the information in the weekly update is representative of the timing and location of activity, but it does not reflect the overall burden of disease. It is presumed that there are many more people actually affected than the report shows. Clinicians and policy makers may find the report helpful in terms of communicating to colleagues and patients about the current status of the flu season.

Report Key Points:

• For Week 1, Arkansas reported “Widespread” activity to the CDC for geographic spread of influenza, and “High” or 8 out of 10 for ILI intensity.

• Since Sept. 29, 2019, 7,200 positive influenza tests have been reported to the ADH online database by health care providers, with over 850 positive tests reported this week. Please note that reported cases reflect only a portion of the actual numbers of flu cases in the state.

• Among flu antigen tests this season that can distinguish between influenza A and B virus types, 48% were influenza A, and 52% were influenza B.

• There were 155 positive PCR flu tests from private labs this week: 76 tested positive for influenza A, 79 tested positive for influenza B. At the ADH lab, two samples tested positive for influenza A, Subtype H1N1, and one sample tested negative for influenza this week.

• About 5% of patients visiting emergency rooms this week were there for ILI (Syndromic Surveillance). About 4.2% of outpatient visits were for ILI (ILINet sentinel providers).

• No school absenteeism rate last week among public schools due to the holidays.

• To date, one nursing home in Arkansas has reported influenza outbreak.

• Nationally, the proportion of deaths reported to the National Center for Health Statistics attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was below the epidemic threshold this week.

• For Week 52, the geographic spread of influenza was reported as widespread in Puerto Rico and 45 states and regional in 4 states; the District of Columbia and 1 state reported local activity; the U.S. Virgin Islands reported sporadic activity; and Guam did not report.

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