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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The flu has Arkansas health officials on high alert after 23 school districts across the state closed due to a high average of absences this year.

The Department of Health says flu activity across the state is considered “high intensity” meaning most parts of the state are dealing with a high number of flu cases.

“It’s been really bad,” Pharmacist Chris Price said. “It’s kept us really busy this year. We’re probably filling 10-12 prescriptions a day.”

So far this year, 36 people in Arkansas have died from the flu.

“It’s been extremely busy. We’ve seen a number of both [type] A and B cases,” Dr. Chelsea Kellow-Hedge with the East Arkansas Children’s Clinic said.

The state has reported 17,000 flu cases since last September and says activity is at a level 10, which is the highest tracked metric.

Healthcare professionals say it is not too late for a flu shot and are urging people to wash their hands and stay home if they are showing symptoms.

Flu cases are also up in Tennessee with Shelby County having the highest numbers in the state.

In Mississippi, numbers are lower than this time last year.