The flu bug is arriving early in Central Arkansas this year and it has quite a powerful bite. The CDC says Arkansas' cases are localized within cities, but officials warn there's a month and a half left in the season.
Right now, doctor’s offices are packed with patients that are coughing, sniffling and sneezing.
Doctor Russell Cranford with the Market Place Medical Clinic says, “As of Monday we had a sudden huge influx of patients.
Doctor Cranford says he's noticing the increase in flu patients is early this year.
Cranford adds, “We test by using intro nasal specimen that's looking for three different antigens influenza A and B strains. We had 7 patients on Monday that were confirmed."
A tolerance for a needle prick may be better than a long illness. Contrary to popular belief health officials say the flu shot will not give you the flu.
Tommie Coleman walks out of the Market Street Pharmacy and says, “I haven't had the flu in a long time because I come and get my flu shot and now pneumonia shot."
On average the flu kills about 36,000 people in the United States each year. Getting that shot could save your life and some places like Market Place Pharmacy are running out of vaccines.
Ray Turnage says, “We have had flu shots up till yesterday and the demand has pretty much exceeded our supply."
The Center of Disease Control releases a weekly influenza report and this weeks numbers show six states in brown have widespread cases. Seventeen in orange have regional and the seventeen yellow states including Arkansas have local, meaning within specific cities.
"Unfortunately influenza is also airborne contagion that you are able to contract by being in the same general area. I still don't think we've seen the peak yet, I would expect that we're still probably within the next probably 14 days.”
While no one is immune from getting the flu older and younger folks are particularly susceptible. If you haven't received your flu shot it's not too late, but it will take about two- weeks to take effect.
To minimize those chances you should clean your hands often, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth and cover your face when you cough or sneeze.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta says Arkansas is experiencing regional outbreaks. The state Health Department says that's likely to be elevated to a "widespread" designation by next week.
Click on the link under the picture to see the latest influenza report.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)