Cases of Influenza are widespread this year in Arkansas. Health officials say the virus has been spreading rapidly throughout the southeast.
Kerry Krell of the Arkansas Department of Health says the most prevalent strain this year is H1N1, which is known to affect young, healthy people more often than other strains. She says this season’s flu outbreak has shown a pattern of severity that should lead people to take precautions as it has already led to some fatalities in the state.
“Actually last year one of the worst season's in Arkansas in about 30 years," Krell notes. "And so far this year our cases are matching with what last years were.”
She says there have been 73 confirmed cases of the flu in the state since September, but that number does not paint the whole picture.
“We only count the ones the doctors actually test for. And that doesn't cover the people who don't go to the doctor. You know, a lot of people get sick from the flu and just stick it out at home and that may work for them,, but again that doesn't give us any idea of how much flu is in the state,” Krell says.
She advises everyone over six months of age to get a flu shot and says there have been 5 confirmed flu-related fatalities in the state, but she notes those fatalities may not be the only ones because the virus can often go untested. Influenza can often lead to complications and cause other illnesses, she says.