- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 28, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas officials have reported two more flu-related deaths, bringing the state’s death toll from the current flu season to 205.

The latest deaths were both age 65 or older, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. Of the others who have died from the flu, 154 were age 65 or older, 32 were ages 45-64, 12 were ages 25-44 and five were 18 or younger.

Department spokeswoman Meg Mirive said at least 42 of the people who died had been vaccinated against the flu.

The department also found an uptick in patients with high fevers, coughs or sore throats after several weeks of declines.

Local health care providers reported that the number of patients with such symptoms rose from 1.6 percent to 2.5 percent.

Jennifer Dillaha is the medical director for the department’s immunization program. She told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that she’s anticipating the decline in new cases to continue after the increase last week.

“I’m feeling very encouraged that the flu season will wind down pretty soon, and we can all kind of breathe a sigh of relief,” said Dillaha. “It’s been a very hard year for a lot of people.”

She said the number of deaths reported will increase as the department collects more information from death certificates.

Dillaha recommends flu shots for people who haven’t gotten them yet, live in areas where the flu is still circulating and have elevated risks of developing complications.

The number of flu-related deaths last month surpassed the 110 people who died in the 2014-15 season, Arkansas’ deadliest season since the department began tracking flu deaths in 2000.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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