Five deaths related to H1N1 have been reported by the Arkansas Department of Health in the 2009 flu season as of Sept. 10. The Department of Health will not release the location of the confirmed cases.
"We have H1N1 influenza A all over our state and we knew that we would see deaths from this disease," said James Phillips, MD, Branch Chief for Infectious Disease in a press release from the Department of Health. "Our sympathies are with the family and friends. These additional deaths reinforce the importance of the precautionary measures that all Arkansans should take to prevent getting the disease."
Symptoms of seasonal and H1N1 flu are the same. The symptoms include: fever greater than 100 degrees, body aches, coughing, sore throat, chills, headache and body aches, fatigue, respiratory congestion, and in some cases, diarrhea and vomiting. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact their physician or other health care provider for advice, the release said.
"We believe that the H1N1 vaccine will help us slow the spread of illness and lower the death rate from this flu," Phillips said. "Supplies of the vaccine should be arriving in mid- to late October, according to the CDC."
H1N1 flu is highly contagious and is easily spread from person-to-person through coughing or sneezing and by touching a hard surface with the virus on it and then touching the nose or mouth, the release said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported last week that there have been 593 deaths and just over 9,000 hospitalizations from the 2009 H1N1 virus, according to a press release from the Department of Health.
The majority of southeast United States is categorized by the Center for Disease Control as "widespread" H1N1 reports. Arkansas, Alabama and Texas are one grade lower than their neighboring states with a "regional" report of H1N1 flu.
The United States is experiencing a spike in H1N1 flu reports. Two weeks ago 1.5 percent of all outpatient visits reported to the CDC were for H1N1 flu symptoms. The week ending Sept. 5, spiked to reports of about 4 percent of all out patient visits in the United States being related to H1N1 flu, according to the CDC Web site.
"Almost all of the influenza viruses identified were 2009 H1N1 influenza A viruses," according the CDC Web site. "These 2009 H1N1 viruses remain similar to the viruses chosen for the 2009 H1N1 vaccine, and remain susceptible to antiviral drugs with rare exception."