During flu season, the Arkansas Department of Health (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 2, Arkansas reported “Widespread” activity to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for geographic spread of influenza, and “High” or 9 out of 10 for ILI intensity.

  • Since September 29, 2019, 8,800 positive influenza tests have been reported to the ADH online database by health care providers, with over 1,100 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 percent were influenza A, and 52 percent were influenza B.

  • There were 298 positive PCR flu tests from private labs this week: 163 tested positive for influenza A, 135 tested positive for influenza B. At the ADH lab, 5 samples tested positive for influenza A Subtype H1N1, 2 samples tested positive for influenza B Subtype Victoria, and 5 samples tested negative for influenza this week.

  • About 4.1 percent of patients visiting emergency rooms this week were there for ILI (Syndromic Surveillance). About 4.0 percent of outpatient visits were for ILI (ILINet sentinel providers).

  • The average school absenteeism rate last week was 5.4 percent among public schools.

  • To date, 23 influenza-related deaths have been reported in Arkansas this flu season, one of them was a pediatric death. CDC estimates a total of 4,800 flu deaths have occurred nationwide including 32 pediatric deaths reported this season.

  • To date, 2 nursing homes in Arkansas have reported influenza outbreaks.

  • 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.

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