Flu season ‘milder, less intense’ than last season, Arkansas health officials say | KATV

In December of last year, there had been eight flu-related deaths in Arkansas, according to state Department of Health. By the time the season ended, there were 228.The department’s medical director for immunizations, Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, said December was a turning point last season.

“This is around the time it took off last year,” she said.

But this December, according to Dillaha, health officials have seen a “milder, less intense” flu season. As of Wednesday, three fewer people had died. That’s in part due to a different predominant flu strain that was circulating.

Last season, the flu was most deadly among people 65 years and older. This year, the strain showing predominance has claimed only life one in that age group.

That doesn’t mean everyone is in the clear.

“The intensity has increased around the state and the locations where it’s being diagnosed is increasing,” Dillaha said. “So we’re ramping up.”

As flu season peaks heading into 2019, Dillaha said one way to stay healthy is simple.

“We strongly encourage the flu vaccine this year,” she said. “It’s our best protection against the flu.”

In early 2018, hospitals reported between 4 and 9 percent of emergency room visits were flu-related. This season that number is at around 2 percent.

Source: Flu season ‘milder, less intense’ than last season, Arkansas health officials say | KATV