Update: Flu Deaths Rise to 41

LITTLE ROCK, AR -- The number of flu deaths this season has increased to 41 as of Feb. 10, according to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).

The confirmed cases have been recorded since Sept. 29. The ADH said this year’s flu season is causing severe illness and death in adults between the ages of 25 and 64. 27 of the deaths have been in this age group.

Last year’s flu season was one of the worse in Arkansas in more than 30 years, according to the ADH.

In 2012-2013 there were 61 deaths total, but most of those occurred in people 65 and older, said the ADH.  A spokesperson for the department said, right now, this season is tracking fairly close to last year in terms of hospitalizations, visits to emergency rooms and absenteeism.

It is highly 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.

The ADH says the flu is widespread across the state and that this season's numbers so far are similar to last year in terms of flu activity and number of cases.

The most frequently seen flu strain this year is H1N1, which disproportionately affects young to middle-aged adults and pregnant women. 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.

Click here for more information about flu.

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