December 16, 2003 -- Posted at 7:09 AM CDT
LITTLE ROCK, AR --State health officials say nine Arkansans have died of flu-like illnesses so far this flu season. The nine were all in high-risk groups and included one person younger than 21.
The state Health Department says a higher-than-normal number of influenza cases has been reported.
The agency is urging vaccinations for everyone, even though the number of inoculations currently available in Arkansas is low. Young children, the elderly and people with elevated risks should work to find a vaccine.
The flu virus is transmitted from an infected person through nasal secretions or droplets produced through coughing or sneezing. Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, cough, sore throat and muscle aches.
High-risk groups include anyone over age 50, residents of nursing homes or chronic-care facilities, anyone with pulmonary or cardiovascular problems including asthma, anyone requiring regular medical followup for metabolic diseases such as diabetes, renal dysfunction or immunodeficiencies, children and teenagers receiving long-term aspirin therapy, pregnant women beyond their first trimester, and children aged 6-23 months.