125 flu-related deaths reported in Arkansas

WEST MEMPHIS, AR (WMC) - The number of flu deaths is on the rise, according to the CDC.

The outbreak is so bad in Arkansas that some doctors are treating patients over the phone.

"As of Tuesday afternoon, it's a total of 125 deaths in the state of Arkansas," said Crystal Moore with Crittenden County Health Unit.

Moore said it has gotten so bad that they're stepping in to help.

"What we're doing right now, due to the increased severity of the flu," Moore said. "We're offering the flu shot free of charge."

The shot usually costs about $30, but now Crittenden County Health Unit is offering it at no charge for the rest of the flu season, which typically ends in April.

"Right now we're at the peak season of the flu," Moore said. "It's extremely high compared to previous flu seasons."

Moore said the reasons behind the high numbers could include factors like the current virus's resistance to this year's vaccine and the weeks of winter weather residents endured across the state.

"A lot of people were staying at home or there have been days due to inclement weather schools have been closed so the family are all confined into the home," Moore said. "And if one person has the flu there's chances that that virus could be spread to another member of the family."

Moore said with the reports of flu deaths, their phones are ringing with residents rushing for the vaccine. She said it's not too late, and their doors are open.

The Crittenden County Health Unit is located at 901 North 7th Street in West Memphis, AR.

In Tennessee, the health department is reporting six children and one pregnant woman have died from the flu.

So far in Mississippi, there has been at least one pediatric flu death--the state only requires doctor's to report pediatric deaths, so the complete number of deaths is unknown.

For more information about protecting yourself from the flu, visit the CDC's website.

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