First Flu Death Announced

Little Rock — The first death of the 2012-13 flu season was reported to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). The Health Department does not disclose any other information about the death because of privacy concerns.

According to Nate Smith, MD, Deputy Director at ADH, this report serves as a reminder that the flu can be deadly.

“The flu is something that we always take very seriously,” Smith said. “For some people, the complications that develop are life-threatening. This year’s season has gotten started earlier than usual and the number of illnesses in the state is rapidly increasing. We want people to know that the flu is going around, and the CDC expects this flu season to be particularly severe.”

Those most at risk for severe influenza are pregnant women, people with chronic conditions like heart disease, those who have weakened immune systems, those over 65 and those with respiratory problems like asthma and COPD. Getting a flu vaccine every year is the best protection against the flu. This year’s vaccine contains protection against the kinds of flu that are being seen in doctors’ offices in Arkansas.

Flu vaccine takes 10 days to two weeks to become effective, and it is not too late to get vaccinated. Flu shots are being offered in every local health unit in the state, private physicians’ offices, pharmacies, major retail and other places around the state.

For more information, visit the ADH website at www.healthy.arkansas.gov, or www.flu.gov.