Flu Cases on the Rise
Flu cases are on the rise in the River Valley and Northwest Arkansas.
Summit Medical Center in Van Buren has seen approximately 100 cases of flu this month, a threefold increase over November’s reported cases. Sparks Regional Medical Center in Fort Smith reports 82 confirmed cases of flu this month.
“It kind of suggests that this is going to be very much like the 2009 pandemic that we had,” said Steve Nelson, an emergency room physician at Summit Medical Center. “Indications right now is that this is going to be worse than it has been over the last two years.”
Nelson said those hardest hit this season have been young children and otherwise healthy young adults.
The CDC reports widespread flu activity in Texas, Louisiana and Kansas. Fifty-four people in Oklahoma have been hospitalized with the flu this season, according to the Oklahoma Department of Health. The Arkansas Department of Health reports five flu-related deaths in the state so far this season.
“It seems to be a little bit more widespread in the states surrounding us, but it’s starting to get here,” said Thomas Wofford, a pharmacist at National Family Pharmacy in Fort Smith.
While there have been reports of a shortage of Tamiflu, an anti-virus which reduces the severity of flu symptoms, flu patients in the River Valley area won’t have to go without the drug, according to Wofford.
“We’ve got plenty. We have at least a thousand doses here at National (Family Pharmacy),” he said.
Nelson said getting vaccinated along with washing your hands thoroughly and often are the keys to preventing the spread of influenza.
“It’s very important, even if you haven’t gotten the flu shot yet, go and get one now because this looks to be a very active flu season,” said Nelson.