Seven flu-related deaths reported, raising death toll to 104 amid flu activity level drop to "low" in Arkansas

(Stock image)
(Stock image)

Seven flu-related deaths were reported in Arkansas over the past week, raising this season's death toll to 104, though the level of flu activity in the state dropped to "low" for the first time in months, the state Department of Health reported Thursday.

The previous week, the level of flu activity, based on visits to the doctor by people with a fever and cough or sore throat, was listed as "high."

One death reported in the past week was of a person age 45 to 64 and the other six were of people age 65 or older.

Of the other people who have died of the flu so far this season, one was age 5-17, three were age 18-24, five were age 25-44, 22 were 45-64 and 66 were 65 or older.

The department reported that 70% of the 104 people who have died were not vaccinated against the flu.

During the week ending Saturday, 18 people were admitted to hospitals with the flu, down from 54 the previous week, the department reported.

Meanwhile, 50 people were newly hospitalized with COVID-19, down from 72 the previous week.

From Oct. 1 through the week ending March 9, Arkansas reported 18,428 confirmed flu cases, up from 17,376 cases as of a week earlier.

Since many people who catch the flu aren't tested, the reported cases make up only a portion of the total cases in the state.

During last year's flu season, more than 22,500 positive influenza tests were reported to the state Health Department by the spring.

The flu season is generally from October to May, but cases usually peak between December and February, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During last year's flu season, the state had a "minimal" level of activity in early March. Around this time last year, Arkansas had already reported 147 influenza-related deaths, including one child death.

Thirty-five influenza outbreaks have been reported from nursing homes or other congregate setting institutions this flu season, up from 32 the previous week. Around this time last year, the Health Department reported a total of 21 outbreaks.

Nationally, the CDC estimates 21,000 deaths from flu so far this season, according to the Health Department report.

The Health Department also recorded 24 new COVID-19-related deaths this week, with a total of 710 deaths reported in 2023 and 132 since the start of 2024.

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