Flu cases

School absenteeism is up in Columbia and other counties as a result of flu, but the situation is not yet critical.

The number of flu cases continues to rise in Arkansas, and a few school districts have closed to halt the spread of the illness.

The Arkansas Department of Health produces a Weekly Influenza Report for clinicians. The report provides information on flu activity in the state. ADH receives reports of only a fraction of flu cases since it only requires reports of hospitalizations, deaths, and outbreaks. Therefore, it is important to understand that the information in the weekly update is representative of the timing and location of activity, but it does not reflect the overall burden of disease.

It is presumed that there are many more people actually affected than the report shows.

Since September 29, 10,700 positive influenza tests have been reported to the ADH online database by health care providers, with more than 1,400 positive tests reported last week. Reported cases reflect only a portion of the actual numbers of flu cases in the state.

Among flu antigen tests this season that can distinguish between influenza A and B virus types, 47 percent were influenza A, and 53 percent were influenza B.

There were 307 positive PCR flu tests from private labs last week: 131 tested positive for influenza A, 175 tested positive for influenza B, and 1 tested positive for both A and B. At the ADH lab, 4 samples tested positive for influenza A Subtype H1N1, 6 samples tested positive for influenza B Subtype Victoria, and 1 sample tested negative for influenza.

About 4.6 percent of patients visiting emergency rooms last week were there for ILI (Syndromic Surveillance), which was a slight increase over the previous week. About 5.1 percent of outpatient visits were for ILI (ILINet sentinel providers).

The average school absenteeism rate last week was 6.2 percent among public schools. As of Tuesday, ADH is aware that 2 schools closed briefly due to the flu this season.

To date, 27 influenza-related deaths have been reported in Arkansas this flu season, one of them was a pediatric death. The total number was an increase of four from the previous week.

CDC estimates a total of 6,600 flu deaths have occurred nationwide including 39 pediatric deaths reported this season.

Since September 29, 2019, four Arkansas facilities including two nursing homes have reported influenza outbreaks.

Nationally, the proportion of deaths reported to the National Center for Health Statistics attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) increased but remains below the epidemic threshold.

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