Novel H1N1 Influenza A (Swine Flu) Update for Arkansans

(LITTLE ROCK) — As of Wednesday, July 29, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) reported 150 lab-confirmed cases of novel H1N1 influenza A (Swine Flu) in Arkansas in residents from 38 of the state’s 75 counties.  There have been no deaths due to H1N1 influenza A in Arkansas.

The counties and number of confirmed cases are:
Arkansas-2; Ashley-2; Benton-12; Boone-1; Bradley-4; Calhoun-1; Chicot-1; Cleburne-1; Cleveland-2; Columbia-1; Conway-1; Craighead-8; Cross-1; Dallas-1; Drew-1; Faulkner-16; Garland-1; Grant-1; Hempstead-1; Hot Spring-3; Howard-1; Independence-1; Jefferson-6; Lawrence-1; Lonoke-2; Marion-1; Mississippi-1; Nevada-1; Poinsett-1; Polk-1; Pope-2; Pulaski-39; Saline-3; Sebastian-9; St. Francis-3; Union-4; Washington-10; White-3.

Illness due to novel H1N1 influenza virus is milder than what scientists feared at first but the disease is still spreading and officials are certain that Arkansas has more influenza in the state than what is being reported. Dr. James Phillips, director of the Infectious Disease Branch at ADH said, “From previous experience we know that this is only the tip of the iceberg and the number of infected individuals is significantly greater.  When school starts again, we expect to see an increase in cases.”  The CDC notes that there are probably a million plus unreported cases in the United States.

Following similar action announced recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization, ADH will discontinue reporting novel H1N1 flu cases in the state on its web site, The CDC announced that as of July 24 it would no longer provide individual confirmed and

probable cases of novel H1N1 influenza.

The symptoms of novel H1N1 influenza A virus are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting.

Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people. Arkansans can take these everyday actions to stay healthy:
·                     Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
·                     Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
·                     Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
·                     Stay home and call your physician if you get sick. The ADH recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

Currently, only citizens that are considered high risk are being tested to see if they have the virus.  “However, we want all Arkansans to continue to take preventive measures and not become complacent. We always treat the flu seriously,” said Dr. Paul Halverson, ADH director and state health officer. While the Swine Flu virus currently is acting like a virus that might be seen during a typical flu season, the concern is how the virus might mutate.

High risk individuals include children younger than five years of age, pregnant women and people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions like diabetes and asthma. People working in healthcare settings are also at greater risk.

Roughly 36,000 Americans die from complications of the seasonal flu each year. So far, 302 deaths have occurred in the U.S. from Swine Flu.

The ADH will be conducting mass vaccination clinics for seasonal flu in the fall.  All Arkansans are encouraged to get their seasonal flu shots every year.  Additionally, the federal government is working with vaccine manufacturers to develop a vaccine for H1N1 influenza.  When that vaccine is delivered to Arkansas, the Health Department will make those flu shots available, as well.
For more information on novel H1N1 influenza A (Swine Flu) and seasonal flu, click on or