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Flu-related deaths in Arkansas rise to 140

Eighteen more people died from flu-related illness in Arkansas over the past week (Photo: MGN)

Eighteen more people in Arkansas died from flu-related illness over the past week, bringing the number of deaths this flu season to 140, the state Department of Health reported Tuesday.

Three of those whose deaths were connected to the flu were children. The majority of people, 112, were at least 65 years old.

The Department of Health said that more than 43,000 positive flu tests had been reported across the state since Oct. 1. Most of the positive tests came from 14 counties: Benton, Pulaski, Faulkner, White, Lonoke, Jefferson, Washington, Independence, Craighead, Sebastian, Saline, Randolph, Franklin and Garland.

The flu has continued to affect school attendance in Arkansas. The average absenteeism rate at public schools reportedly increased in the past week from 8.4 percent to 8.8 percent.

The number of flu deaths this season is the highest in about two decades, according to the state Department of Health. To help fight the virus, the state began offering free flu shots at local health centers last week.

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