3 more flu deaths last week, Ark. total flu deaths now 10 - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

3 more flu deaths last week, Ark. total flu deaths now 10

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LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -

 


The flu claimed three more lives last week, bringing the total number of confirmed flu deaths in the state to ten.

Last year was the worst year on record for flu deaths. But Arkansas Department of Health officials said Tuesday this flu season, which began at the end of September, is on track to be even worse with 3,800 cases reported. 1,400 of those cases occurred last week.

"Unfortunately we expect more deaths," said Dirk Haselow, the state epidemiologist with the Dept. of Health.

Haselow said the victims have been in an unusual group for flu-related deaths: seven of the ten were between the ages of 25 and 64. 

"It is a severe season," Haselow said. "In the last week our number of anagen-positive flu tests have nearly doubled over the ten weeks prior. Our cumulative count has more than doubled in one week."

The flu typically puts the very young, elderly, and those with compromised immune systems at risk. 

But one strain also affects the young to middle aged group.

H1N1 has one of the more dominant flu strains since 2009.

"It's a unique strain in that it causes a lot more illness in middle aged and younger adults as well as children, and in particular, very severe illness in pregnant women," Haselow said.

The spike in cases has been during a time when children are not in school.

"Even during a week when school is out and children are out of school, we still see increases in ER visits and outpatient visits, that makes us really worry about what's going to happen next week when they get back to school and in a congregate setting, where they could give the virus to each other."

It is not too late to get vaccinated. There have been some spot shortages but the flu vaccine is available around the state.