LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Schools are closing and clinics are overrun all because of the flu.
As concerns grow over the infection in Arkansas, 11 listens to your questions about the virus.
On Facebook, we gave our followers an opportunity to ask all their flu-related questions. Dr. Amanda Novack, an Infectious Disease Physician with the Arkansas Department of Health, answered the most-asked questions for us.
Q: We keep hearing how bad this flu season is, but how does it compare to years past?
Dr. Novack: "This does seem to be a particularly bad flu season. Things we look at are how often people are missing school, how many E.R. visits are related to flu-like illness, and lab tests for the flu. And all of those measures are higher this year than most years."
Q:On average, how long does a flu infection last this year?
Dr. Novack: "In general the flu lasts for three to fourteen days. Most people will see symptoms for about five to seven days. But, even after the virus passes, sometimes the fatigue and the low energy can take several weeks to recover."
Q: Are all 49 flu-related deaths in Arkansas people who did not get the flu shot, or did people who received the flu shot die too?
Dr. Novack: "We don't have great numbers about who received the flu vaccine. We do know that about one-third of the deaths were in vaccinated people, and we just really don't have the information on the rest of the patients."
Q: What is the best and easiest thing I can do to protect myself from the flu?
Dr. Novack: "The best way we have to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine. But then also good infection control methods are helpful, too. So good hand hygiene, avoiding crowded areas with other sick people; if you are sick, staying home or avoiding crowded place, sneezing or coughing into your elbow - all of these are real ways of helping to prevent the spread of the flu.