Tulsa County reports state's first flu death of the season
BY SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writer
Friday, December 28, 2012
12/28/12 at 7:20 AM
A Tulsa County resident is the first person in Oklahoma to die from the flu this season.
Since Sept. 30, 24 hospitalizations due to flu have been reported in Tulsa County. That's the most for any county in the state.
Oklahoma County has reported 10, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
There have been 75 flu-related hospitalizations throughout the state. Twenty-one of those were reported last week.
The identity of the person who died in Tulsa County was not released, but authorities said he or she was an adult between the ages of 19 and 64, inclusive.
The age range with the most hospitalizations was 65 and older, with 28. Children younger than 4 accounted for 20 cases, according to the department.
Kendra Dougherty, an epidemiologist with the state Health Department's Acute Disease Service, said the increase in cases is to be expected at this point in the season.
"For Oklahoma, it's been right on par with what we'd particularly see," she said.
The flu usually peaks in January or February, but every season is different, and it's hard to predict how severe this season will be, she said.
Last year deviated from the norm because it had a mild flu season that started late, she said.
Flu patients started showing up at the St. Francis Hospital emergency room about three weeks ago, and the number increased dramatically about two weeks ago. It is up to nearly 20 patients a day, said Dr. Ethan Warlick, director of the Pediatric Emergency Center.
Most of them do not need to be admitted to the hospital, he said.
Dougherty said it's not too late to get the flu vaccine and that the Health Department encourages people to get it.
This year's vaccine covers the strain that is being identified in the majority of cases that have been reported, she said.
Warlick encouraged people to be vaccinated now because the flu can show up at nearly any time of year.
"Just because it hits now doesn't mean it's going to be gone in two months," he said.
Dougherty said people also should try to prevent the flu by covering coughs and practicing good hand hygiene. Those who are sick should stay home from work or school.
Nationally 1,013 people have been hospitalized and eight children have died this flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Flu activity has been increasing across the nation, particularly in the south-central and southeastern regions of the county.
Twenty-nine states reported widespread flu last week, according to the CDC.
Cover your mouth and your nose when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue and throw it away. If no tissue is available, cough into the crook of your elbow, not your hand.
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds:
Source: Hillcrest Medical Center
- After you sneeze or cough
- After using the bathroom
- Before you eat
- Before you touch your face
Original Print Headline: Tulsa has state's first flu death of season
Shannon Muchmore 918-581-8378
Vials at the Tulsa Health Department. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World file