Children affected most by flu outbreak in NEA

HOXIE, Ark. – Thursday March 7 and Friday March 8, Hoxie Public Schools will be closed due to a district wide influenza-like illness.

The buildings will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and school will resume on Monday, March 11.

Lawrence County has been particularly hit hard in northeast Arkansas. It is one of only two counties listed by name in the Arkansas Department of Health’s influenza report from NEA which have been hit hard – the other being White County.

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To date, 57 people have died from influenza-related symptoms in Arkansas, including one child. 70-percent of those who have died were unvaccinated or had an unknown vaccine history.

Dr. Dirk Haselow, MD, PhD, is the State Epidemiologist and in charge of outbreak response for the ADH. On Wednesday, he said there was no good reason not to vaccinate yourself and your children.

“Vaccines are among the safest and most studied medicines known to man,” Dr. Haselow said. “They’ve been lauded in medicine and public health as one of the top ten discoveries in the past 100 years. They’ve done more to expand our human lifespan than anything other than clean water and are associated with increasing our human lifespan by over 10 years.”

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As of March 2, 17 school closings were counted by ADH from flu-like illnesses this season (not counting Hoxie’s announcement today). Data from the ADH shows children age 5-18 as being responsible for almost half of the cases since September. The next most affected group was children ages 0-4.

56 children have died nationwide from influenza-related deaths this season, the CDC reports.

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The elderly are the most at-risk once they have the flu, with 35 elderly Arkansans having died from the virus or related causes. Since September 31, five nursing homes in Arkansas have reported outbreaks.

It’s not an issue unique to Arkansas, though. All states except Hawaii report widespread influenza activity for the week ending Feb. 23, the most recent date available.

Fortunately, it appears that Arkansas may finally be getting over the worst of the virus. The number of positive tests peaked in week seven and began a sharp decline by the most current date available, week nine. flu1

 

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