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Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS | Get the local news and weather where you live from 5NEWS. Covering Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Bentonville, and all of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.

Arkansas sees one of its lowest flu seasons thanks to COVID-19 precautions

There are flu cases spreading in Arkansas, but the number is low. Doctors say it's not too late to get your flu vaccination.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — COVID-19 might be surging across the country, but the exact opposite is happening with the flu.

Arkansas is seeing one of its calmest flu seasons ever and doctors attribute that to the measures we've put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Doctor Devon Ballard, a local family practitioner says neither he nor his partners have had one flu patient come in this season.

Normally, he would have seen hundreds by now.

In the past 3 years, there have been hundreds of flu-related deaths in Arkansas, but this season there have been only 12 so far. 

None of those were infant deaths... The CDC has only reported one child in the U.S. who has died from the flu this season.

"This year when we implemented measures to stop the spread of COVID in the springtime when we still had flu... the cases nationally dropped precipitously," said Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, the epidemiologist for the Arkansas Department of Health.

The flu and COVID-19 spread similarly through aerosol droplets in the air. So, wearing masks, social distancing, and good hygiene was not only limiting the spread of COVID-19, but also the flu.

Dr. Dillaha said we never used those precautions before now to stop the spread of the flu.

Dr. Ballard and Dr. Dillaha both agree washing your hands, distancing yourself in public, and staying home are guaranteed to limit the spread of the flu.

These measures could also be continued in the future during flu season.

"I think in the future we will look back on this and say, 'Well, why not?' Why should we ourselves not take these measures on to prevent the spread of flu," said Dr. Dillaha.

There are flu cases spreading in Arkansas, but the number is low. Doctors say it's not too late to get your flu vaccination.