North Carolina health officials concerned about spike in flu-related deaths

The Arkansas Department of Health said the state is experiencing a high level of flu and flu-like illnesses.

Collin, Denton and Tarrant counties have also reported no pediatric deaths from flu-related symptoms.

"This is one of the most severe flu seasons in the state since 2000", said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, state influenza surveillance coordinator.

While this year's flu numbers are out of the ordinary, the C.D.C.is reporting that Memphis is one of the cities in Tennessee seeing a higher number of flu-related illness. A shift toward more influenza B viruses is common for the latter part of the flu season.

The flu vaccine offers the best way to protect yourself against the flu. "And this flu season is far from over". The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that of all influenza A (H3) viruses evaluated from across the country, nearly 97% matched the influenza A (H3) strain found in this year's vaccines. Older people, children under 5 years of age, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions (asthma, diabetes, and heart disease) are at particularly high risk for serious flu complications. Officials report this season's vaccine formula is not as effective as last year's, but more effective than others in the past. "It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to be effective, so now is a really good time to get that protection if you have not already", according to McHugh.

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