Arkansas reports first flu case of the year

The Arkansas Public Health Lab has confirmed the first case of seasonal flu in the state for this year.
Dr. James Phillips, the Infectious Disease branch chief at the Arkansas Department of Health, said that the case comes early in the season, WMC TV reports.
“However, it is not uncommon to have a few early cases before the first real surge of flu in Arkansas,” Phillips said, according to WMC TV. “The typical flu season in Arkansas happens between early December and late March in most years.”
The patient is a teenager and lives in the northeast part of the state.
“We want to take this opportunity to urge those in the higher risk groups to go ahead and get vaccinated,” Phillips said, according to WMC TV. “It’s also important to remind families that good hygiene can help prevent the spread of the flu. You can protect yourself and those around you with proper hand washing and by covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.”
Those at high risk for flu complications include children younger than five and especially children younger than two, pregnant women, those over the age of 65 and people who have conditions flu can complicate, such as asthma, cancer and blood disorders.
“Flu can be a serious illness, and we lose roughly 23,600 Americans to complications from flu each year," Dr. Paul Halverson, a state health officer and director of ADH, said, WMC TV reports. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages everyone six months and older to get the vaccine. Last year, the ADH vaccinated 387,000 Arkansans in school and mass flu clinics. Even with this incredible effort, we lost 11 Arkansans to complications from flu. Preventing the flu is up to you. Please get your vaccine and encourage your family members to do so, too.”