LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — The Arkansas Department of Health now calling flu conditions in the state an epidemic. There is a total of 59 deaths to date and Arkansans are experiencing all four influenza strains.
Dr. Dirk Haselow, with the Arkansas Department of Health, has a message for people around the state: If it looks like flu or feels like flu, it's probably the flu.
While getting a vaccination is still important there's no need for every person with symptoms to run to their doctor's office for a test. The supply is low.
“Even in kids we're seeing some nausea and vomiting,” said Callie Fletcher, a Nurse Practitioner at MedExpress in Little Rock.
The flu continues to be a concern in the Natural State and will account for many more doctors' visits for months to come.
“This is a very severe season in Arkansas. We're seeing more deaths this season than we saw in the 2009 season,” Haselow said.
The dominant strain causing people to feel their worst is H3-N2, which affects adults the most.
“We are actually seeing all four strains, both influenza B strains, the H1 and 91 strains circulating as well. There's a swarm of flu of there,” he added.
Personal precautions are necessary to stop the spreading of viruses. If you have a fever, are experiencing chills, a runny nose or coughing. It’s time to take heed.
"Coughing or sneezing in the elbow, washing hands off, and staying home from work or school when sick can help,” Haselow said.
If you haven't already, get a flu shot. The ADH predicts more deaths in the state before the outbreak peaks.
“Right now, 59 Arkansans have died from the flu and that's the highest we've seen since 2009,” Haselow said.
Depending on location, MedExpress sees about a dozen flu patients a day.
“When you have symptoms of the flu it is very important to stay away from other people because the flu spreads very easily, through coughing and talking. It's transmitted through the air and people within a 6-foot radius can get it,” said Fletcher.
Due to the high volume of patients, flu kits are now running low everywhere.
“There is a national shortage on flu tests. But we're expected to get more in soon,” Fletcher said.