LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Department of Health urges Arkansans to stay home if they have a fever or other symptoms that could be flu-related.
ADH has seen an uptick in flu-related illness in recent weeks. Going to work, school, or even holiday events while contagious could spread the flu. People are generally contagious one to two days before symptoms start and five to seven days after symptoms start.
“A good rule of thumb is to not go anywhere until you have been fever-free for 24 hours without the help of medication,” said Dr. Gary Wheeler, ADH Chief Medical Officer. “You could spread the flu to someone who is at risk of complications like hospitalization or even death.”
Flu symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, muscle or body aches, fatigue and a headache. Symptoms may also include vomiting and diarrhea in children. Influenza antiviral prescription drugs, like Tamiflu, can be used to treat or prevent influenza if started soon after symptoms begin.
There have already been eight flu-related deaths this flu season in Arkansas, all in people aged 65 or older. People who are at a higher risk for complications from the flu include:
• Children aged two years old and younger
• Adults aged 65 years and older
•Pregnant women, or women up to two weeks after delivering a child
• People with a suppressed immune system
• People with chronic health problems, like asthma, diabetes, cancer and heart disease
• Residents of nursing homes or other chronic care facilities
It is recommended that everyone aged 6 months and older get the flu shot every year. It is especially important for pregnant women and others at high risk for complications to get the flu shot. The flu shot is available in Local Health Units located in every county and many doctor’s offices. Pharmacies also have flu shots available but do not give flu shots to children younger than seven years of age.