According to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), the average public school absenteeism rate for the first week of influenza season was 5.2% across the state, but only Boone County in this five-county area was below that rate.
Carroll County’s rate was highest at 6.06%, followed by Marion County at 5.76%, Newton County at 5.57% and Searcy County at 5.55% The rate in Boone County schools was reported as 4.91%.
During the flu season, the ADH produces a Weekly Influenza Report for clinicians. The report provides information on flu activity in the state. The report also compares influenza-like 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.
Some key points in the week one report:
• For Week 40, Arkansas reported “Sporadic” activity to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for geographic spread of influenza, and “Minimal” or 1/10 for ILI intensity.
• Since Sept. 29, more than 66 positive influenza tests have been reported to the ADH online database by health care providers. Reported cases reflect only a portion of the actual numbers of flu cases in the state.
• Among flu antigen tests that can distinguish between influenza A and B virus types, 72% were influenza A, and 28% were influenza B.
• There are 11 positive PCR flu tests from private labs this week: three tested positive for influenza A and eight tested positive for influenza B. At the ADH lab, no samples were tested for influenza this week.
• About 1.4% of patients visiting emergency rooms were there for ILI this week. About 1.3% of outpatient visits were for ILI.
• To date, no influenza-related deaths have been reported in Arkansas this flu season. A total of 120 deaths were reported last flu season.
• To date, no nursing homes in Arkansas have reported influenza outbreaks.