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The Arkansas Department of Health reports another 10 people in Arkansas died from influenza-related disease last week, up from 86 the previous week. A third pediatric death was also reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates a total of 22,000 flu deaths have occurred nationwide including 144 pediatric deaths reported this season.

The average school absenteeism rate last week was 7.0% among public schools, up from 6.5% the previous week. As of March 20, ADH said 42 schools/districts that closed briefly due to the flu this season.

Absenteeism rates in the five local counties last week showed:

• Newton County — 5.35%

• Carroll County — 6.27%

• Boone County — 6.66%

• Marion County — 7.28%

• Searcy County — 9.32%

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 11, Arkansas reported “Widespread” 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 September 29, 2019, 34,600 positive influenza tests have been reported to the ADH online database by health care providers, with over 960 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 241 positive PCR flu tests from private labs this week: 145 tested positive for influenza A, 95 tested positive for influenza B, and one tested positive for both influenza A and B. At the ADH lab, one sample tested positive for influenza B Subtype Victoria, and no samples tested negative for flu this week.

About 6.1% of patients visiting emergency rooms this week were there for ILI (Syndromic Surveillance). About 2.6% of outpatient visits were for ILI (ILINet sentinel providers).

• Since September 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) remains below the epidemic threshold this week.

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