Arkansas reports 1 more flu death, ‘high’ level of illness

Shane Jennings (from right), a parent of a Future School of Fort Smith student, receives a flu shot Oct. 25 from University of Arkansas at Fort Smith nursing students Bethany Willmann and Kassy Pense at a free community flu clinic hosted by the Arkansas Department of Health's Sebastian County Health Unit inside the Future School's teacher lounge in Fort Smith. (File Photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)
Shane Jennings (from right), a parent of a Future School of Fort Smith student, receives a flu shot Oct. 25 from University of Arkansas at Fort Smith nursing students Bethany Willmann and Kassy Pense at a free community flu clinic hosted by the Arkansas Department of Health's Sebastian County Health Unit inside the Future School's teacher lounge in Fort Smith. (File Photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)

One more flu-related death was reported in Arkansas last week, raising the total number of influenza deaths in the state to six since the beginning of October, the state Department of Health reported Wednesday.

The report indicated "high" activity of flu-like illness in Arkansas last week, up from "moderate" activity a week earlier.

Five of the deaths reported to the department were people 65 or older, and the most recent death was of a person 45-64 years old, according to the report.

The flu season generally runs from October to May. By mid-December of last year, Arkansas had already reported 86 flu deaths, including one child death.

During all of the last flu season, the state reported a total of 160 flu deaths.

Cases usually peak between December and February, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Across the nation, the CDC estimates 2,300 people have died of the flu this season, according to the Health Department report.

Nationally, the proportion of deaths reported to the National Center for Health Statistics that were attributed to pneumonia and influenza was above the epidemic threshold last week, the report said.

In Arkansas, 1,976 flu cases have been reported from Oct. 1 through Saturday, up from 1,372 a week earlier, the department reported.

Since many people who catch the flu aren't tested, the reported cases make up only a portion of the total cases in the state.

Flu antigen tests indicate that, of the state's reported cases, 142 were influenza A, 344 were influenza B and four were both.

During last year's flu season, over 22,500 positive influenza tests were reported to the Health Department by the spring.

The Health Department also reported that 14 covid-related deaths were reported last week, bringing the total since Jan. 1 to 629.

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