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According to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), the average public school absenteeism rate for the second week of influenza season was 5.1%, a slight drop from the 5.2% in the first week.

Newton County’s absenteeism rate was the lowest in the Daily Times five-county coverage area at 4.43%. Marion County’s was highest at 6.27%, followed by Carroll County’s 5.95% and Searcy County at 5.94%. The absenteeism rate in Boone County was 5.38%

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 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.

Report Key Points:

• For Week 41, Arkansas reported “Sporadic” activity to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for geographic spread of influenza, and “Minimal” or 3 out of 10 for ILI intensity.

• Since September 29, over 180 positive influenza tests have been reported to the ADH online database by health care providers, with over 80 positive tests reported this week. 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, 78% were influenza A, and 22% were influenza B.

• There were eight positive PCR flu tests from private labs this week: three tested positive for influenza A and five tested positive for influenza B. At the ADH lab, no samples were tested for influenza this week.

• About 1.5% of patients visiting emergency rooms were there for ILI this week. About 2.0% 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.

• Nationally, the proportion of deaths reported to the National Center for Health Statistics attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was below the system-specific epidemic threshold.

• For week 40, the geographic spread of influenza was reported as local in 4 states. The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and 40 states reported sporadic activity, and six states reported no activity. Guam did not report.

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