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Influenza-related deaths continue to rise this season as last week's data show 11 more deaths bringing the state's total to 116. That includes three pediatric deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates a total of 24,000 flu deaths have occurred nationwide including 155 pediatric deaths reported this season.

During flu season, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) produces a Weekly Influenza Report for clinicians. The report provides information on flu activity in the state. The report also compares influenzalike-illness (ILI) in Arkansas to activity in the U.S. 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. Clinicians and policy makers may find the report helpful in terms of communicating to colleagues and patients about the current status of the flu season.

Report Key Points:

For Week 13, Arkansas reported “Regional” activity to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for geographic spread of influenza, and “Low” or 5 out of 10 for ILI intensity.

• Since Sept. 29, 2019, 35,900 positive influenza tests have been reported to the ADH online database by health care providers, with over 150 positive tests reported this week. Please note that 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, 53% were influenza A, and 47% were influenza B.

• There were 29 positive PCR flu tests from private labs this week: 17 tested positive for influenza A, 12 tested positive for influenza B. At the ADH lab, no sample tested for flu this week.

• About 3.7% of patients visiting emergency rooms this week were there for ILI (Syndromic Surveillance). About 2.9% of outpatient visits were for ILI (ILINet sentinel providers).

• No school report this week due to school closures for COVID 19 starting March 17; prior, ADH was aware of 42 schools/districts that closed briefly due to the flu this season.

Since Sept. 29, 2019, 12 facilities including 10 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) is above the epidemic threshold this week.

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