The number of flu deaths in Arkansas this season has increased to 21 as of Thursday, January 16, according to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), recommended that all individuals in this age group receive a seasonal flu vaccine and promptly visit a doctor should they experience severe flu like symptoms.
Dr. Dirk Haselow is the state epidemiologist with the Department of Health. He says "Unfortunately we expect more deaths."
The flu is widespread, according to the Centers for Disease Control. "Widespread" means that more than 50 percent of geographic regions in state counties, for example, are reporting flu activity. It addresses the spread of the flu, not its severity.
The most frequently seen flu strain this year is H1N1, which disproportionately affects young to middle aged adults and pregnant women. The Arkansas Department of Health says there are multiple factors that may explain why younger, healthier people are affected this year. One observation is that only 30 percent of individuals in this age group have been vaccinated against seasonal flu this year. That leaves over 650,000 unvaccinated Arkansans in this age group unprotected from the flu. Individuals who are pregnant or in this age category may experience a rapid onset of symptoms that quickly progress to severe illness.
Flu symptoms include, fever over 100 degrees, headache, extreme fatigue, sore throat, muscle aches, dry cough, and runny or stuffy nose. If you have flu symptoms and experience shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, sudden dizziness, or pain or pressure in the chest.
If you're vomiting it's most likely not the flu, but some sort of stomach bug. Doctors say colds are quantified by a stuffy nose, sore throat, and maybe hoarseness. If you experience any kind of sickness, go to the doctor right away to avoid worsening symptoms. There are some medications to help ease the effects of influenza.