Five flu deaths in Arkansas reported over past week

Shane Jennings (from right), a parent of a Future School of Fort Smith student, receives a flu shot 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 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)

Five flu-related deaths were reported in Arkansas over the past week, raising this season's death toll to 29, the state Department of Health reported Wednesday.

The state remains at a "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.

Two of the deaths reported in the past week were of people between the ages 18 and 24, the first deaths in that age group that have been reported this season.

One person who died was between the ages of 25 and 44, and two were 65 or older.

Of the others who have died of the flu so far this season, two were age 25-44, seven were age 45-64 and 15 were 65 or older.

During the week ending Saturday, 82 people were admitted to hospitals with the flu, up from 43 the previous week, the department reported.

Meanwhile, 85 people were newly hospitalized with covid-19, down from 93 the previous week.

From Oct. 1 through the week ending Jan. 27, Arkansas reported 7,701 confirmed flu cases, up from 6,221 cases as of a week earlier.

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

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.

The flu season is generally from October to May. Around this time last year, Arkansas had already reported 129 influenza-related deaths, including one child death.

Twelve influenza outbreaks have been reported from nursing homes or other congregate setting institutions this flu season. Around this time last year, the Health Department reported a total of 20 outbreaks.

Nationally, the CDC estimates 13,000 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 noted 31 covid-related deaths reported over the past week, raising the total since Jan. 1, 2023, to 699.

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