Arkansas Health

Nate Smith
Governor's Office / You Tube

Arkansas health officials say another two dozen people have died from the flu, pushing the number of deaths this season to 94.

The state Department of Health said Tuesday that Arkansas may not have seen its peak number of flu cases.

It said that, based on previous years, it would not be surprising for Arkansas to have more than 200 flu deaths before the season is over. A number that high would be a modern record.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked Arkansas the most obese state in the nation in 2014, the state’s weight epidemic is now leveling off, and health officials hope obesity rates will start to go down.

Picture of Tobacco
Public Domain Pictures

The American Lung Association released its annual State of Tobacco report for all 50 states Wednesday. Arkansas received an F in four out of five categories, failing in tobacco prevention, tobacco taxes, access to cessation services, and the minimum age of sale for tobacco products.

The main campus of the University of Arkansas For Medical Sciences in Little Rock.
UAMS

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is cutting 600 positions as it faces the prospect of cutting $30 million in expenses this fiscal year. Only 258 of the once-budgeted positions were filled. UAMS is the state’s largest public employer with a staff of more than 10,000 and is the only Level One Trauma Center in the state.

The Arkansas Department of Health is warning residents about a significant influenza outbreak and how best to prepare.

“In a bad flu year, it's estimated a third of the population gets the flu," says Dr. Dirk Haselow, state epidemiologist who is tracking outbreak response. "In Arkansas that would be a million people." 

This influenza season, which began in early December and ends in late March, intensified over the holiday season and is shaping up to be a bad one, Haselow says.

Wendy Reaves (seated) speaks to members of the Arkansas Tobacco Settlement Commission with her daughter Regan and Gov. Asa Hutchinson looking on.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says diverting money from Arkansas’s tobacco settlement to help people with developmental disabilities has cut the number of families on a waiting list by 500.

Speaking at the quarterly meeting of the state’s Tobacco Settlement Commission Tuesday, Hutchinson praised commissioners for supporting a proposal he made in September 2016.

"You embraced that idea, which I wanted to thank you for," he said.

Arkansas’s health groups are reacting to corrective statements the tobacco industry began airing on network TV in late November with some optimism that they will help reduce the state’s high smoking rate as well as concern the ads won’t reach young people.

flu shot
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

This year's flu season is off to a quick start and so far it seems to be dominated by a nasty bug.

Health officials say the flu vaccine seems well matched to the viruses making people sick, but it's too early to tell how bad this season will be. The main flu bug this season tends to cause more deaths and hospitalizations and vaccines tend not to work as well against this type.

Flu began picking up last month. By the end of last week, seven states reported widespread flu activity: Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Virginia.

Soy has been widely accepted as a heart-healthy food for nearly two decades.  Manufacturers of packaged food products have claimed that soy protein reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, and labeled their products thusly.

Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration isn’t so sure and is seeking an unprecedented revocation of the authorized claim.  With an authorized claim, manufacturers get a stamp of approval from the FDA to directly state a health benefit — calcium, for instant, helps stymie osteoporosis.

The agency said a review of evidence linking soy protein to improved heart health wasn’t conclusive enough to warrant an authorized claim. 

Douglas Balentine, director of the Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling, said studies have evolved since the authorized claim for soy's heart benefits was approved in 1999.

flu shot
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A mass flu vaccine clinic will be held Wednesday at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds in Little Rock. Flu shots will be available from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Hall of Industry at 2600 Howard Street off of Roosevelt Road.

People with health insurance should bring their insurance cards, while those without coverage will also be able to get the vaccine at no charge. The clinic is being hosted by the Arkansas Department of Health.

Pages