Flu Outbreak Spreading in Arkansas

November 26, 2003 - Posted at 2:08 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - An Arkansas Health Department doctor says the flu virus has effectively spread throughout the state, and he's urging folks who haven't gotten their flu shots to get them now.

57 of the state's 75 counties are reporting flu, but Dr. David Bourne says its only a matter of time before reports trickle in from the remaining 18 counties.

The strain of flu causing a lot of the problem this year is not covered in the vaccine.  But Bourne says a strain that is very close is in the vaccine, and the shot will help protect against the virus.

Bourne says people should see a doctor if they have the flu and the symptoms become alarming.  The virus in some cases can affect the heart and brain.  Young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with other health problems tend to be most vulnerable.

Even not factoring in possible complications, Bourne says it's best to prevent the disease.  The flu, with its body aches, coughs, headache and high fever makes patients feel so bad that, in Bourne's words, "At first you're going to die, then your afraid you're not going to die."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)