Arkansas reports 14 more deaths from the flu, including season’s first child death

Sabrina Mallett, a licensed practical nurse for UAMS, prepares to administer a flu shot Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020 during a drive-thru covid-19 testing at the Lonoke Community Center. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)
Sabrina Mallett, a licensed practical nurse for UAMS, prepares to administer a flu shot Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020 during a drive-thru covid-19 testing at the Lonoke Community Center. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)


Fourteen flu-related deaths were reported in Arkansas over the past week, including the first pediatric death of the season, raising the death toll from the season to 69, the state Department of Health reported Wednesday.

The state remains at a "very high" level of flu activity, based on visits to the doctor by people with a fever and cough or sore throat, according to the department's weekly report.

The child who died was between the ages of 5 and 17, according to the report.

The deaths also included one of a person age 18-24, one age 25-44, three age 45-64 and eight who were 65 or older.

Of the other people who have died of the flu so far this season, two were age 18-24, four were age 25-44, 13 were age 45-64 and 36 were 65 or older.

The department reported that 72% of the 69 people who have died were not vaccinated against the flu.

During the week ending Saturday, 93 people were admitted to hospitals with the flu, up from 69 the previous week, the department reported.

Meanwhile, 68 people were newly hospitalized with covid-19, up from 61 the previous week.

From Oct. 1 through the week ending Feb. 24, Arkansas reported 15,004 confirmed flu cases, up from 13,467 cases as of a week earlier.

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.

Cases usually peak between December and February, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During last year's flu season, the state had a "minimal" level of activity in early February.

The flu season is generally from October to May. Around this time last year, Arkansas had already reported 146 influenza-related deaths, including one child death, where 76% were not vaccinated.

Twenty-four influenza outbreaks have been reported from nursing homes or other congregate setting institutions this flu season, up from 21 the previous week.

Around this time last year, the Health Department reported a total of 21 outbreaks.

Nationally, the CDC estimates 17,000 deaths from flu so far this season, according to the Health Department report.

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

The Health Department also recorded no new covid-19-related deaths this week, with a total of 701 deaths reported in 2023 and 88 reported since the start of 2024.

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