Flu season worst in past 17 seasons, 140 confirmed deaths in Arkansas

Worst flu season in two decades, 122 flu-related deaths confirmed in Arkansas

The Arkansas Department of Health has deemed this flu season the worst in almost two decades after nearly 30 more people have died since last week.

For comparison, from 2014-2015, 110 people died from flu-related causes. This season, 140 people have died and some doctors say this year’s flu season has not even peaked yet.

"This season continues to surprise us,” Dr. Dirk Haselow with the Arkansas Department of Health said. "Our levels appear to be on par with what was seen in 1968. One of the worldwide pandemics of the flu."

Among the 140 deaths so far, 99 of those are people ages 65 and up, according to ADH. Two children between the ages of 5 and 18 have also died from flu related causes.

So, why are mostly elderly people dying from the flu?

"Most people who get the flu end up getting damage in their lungs that then allows them to have a bacterial infection overgrow and cause a pneumonia that kills them,” Dr. Haselow said.

He also said the flu shot can sometimes be ineffective in the elderly.

“When people get to the extremes of ages, around 80 years old, often times they don’t respond really well to the flu shot and they still get it. In that case, I would encourage the people who take care of the very young and old to get their shots just to ensure their loved ones don’t get sick,” Haselow said.

However, Dr. Haselow said the flu shot is still the most important preventive measure you can take and it's not too late to get one.

"It's been proven again and again, that the shot makes the flu milder if you get it and prevents it most of the time,” Haselow said.

© 2018 KTHV-TV


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