Baxter County leading the state in school absenteeism in weekly flu report

The latest weekly flu report from the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) indicates Baxter County has the highest public school absenteeism rate in the state at 16.63% for the week ending Saturday. In addition, three surrounding counties were among the next top five in absenteeism rates. The state’s average school absenteeism rate last week was 8.4%.

In North Central Arkansas the report indicates the absenteeism rate stood at 13.88% for Fulton County, followed by Marion County at 12.74%, Izard County at 10.31 percent, Boone County at 9.8%, Searcy County at 8.95%, Newton County at 8.76% and Stone County at 8.73%.

As of Tuesday, ADH is aware of 36 schools/districts closing briefly due to the flu this season

During the flu seasons the ADH produces a Weekly Influenza Report for clinicians. The report provides information on flu activity in the state. The report also compares influenzalike-illness (ILI) in Arkansas to activity in the U.S. ADH receives reports of only a fraction of flu cases, since it only requires reports of hospitalizations, deaths and outbreaks.

Therefore, it is important to understand the information in the weekly update is representative of the timing and location of activity, but it does not reflect the overall burden of disease. It is presumed there are many more people actually affected than the report shows.

Since Sept. 29, over 20,560 positive influenza tests have been reported to the ADH online database by health care providers, with over 2,400 positive tests reported this past week. Reported cases reflect only a portion of the actual numbers of flu cases in the state.

Among flu antigen tests that can distinguish between influenza A and B virus types, 49% were influenza A, and 51% were influenza B.

To date, 46 influenza-related deaths have been reported in Arkansas this flu season, with one of them being pediatric. The CDC estimates 12,000 flu deaths have occurred nationwide, with 78 pediatric ones being reported this season.

Since Sept. 29, six facilities including four nursing homes in Arkansas have reported influenza outbreaks.

To view the full report, click weekly flu report.

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