Flu hospitalizes 100, causes school closures in Oklahoma this week
BY SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writer
Friday, January 18, 2013
1/18/13 at 7:47 AM
Additional deaths have not been reported from the flu in Oklahoma, but 100 people were hospitalized over the past week and several schools have closed because of high absenteeism.
The flu has hit harder and earlier than in previous years, said Dr. Regina Lewis, director of the Oklahoma State University Women's Health Center and assistant professor of family medicine.
"We've seen a lot of people sick, from kids to adults," she said.
People are experiencing more severe symptoms and more of them are getting pneumonia after the flu, Lewis said.
Since Sept. 30 there have been eight deaths and 484 hospitalizations from flu in Oklahoma, reports show.
Three of the deaths and 162 of the hospitalizations have been in Tulsa County; the other deaths have been in Creek, Mayes, Muskogee, Pittsburg and Rogers counties.
Half of the deaths have been of people 65 and older; the others have been between the ages of 19 and 64.
Westville Public Schools in Adair County closed Thursday and Friday because of the flu.
More than 200 of the 1,145 students and several staff members in the school system were absent Wednesday. The elementary school students were particularly hard-hit, but all grades share the same campus, with one cafeteria, one library and one gym, Superintendent Terry Heustis said.
"We just knew that at any point it could get out of control," he said.
Monday is a professional development day, so students won't be at school. That gives the custodial staff five days to clean classrooms, Heustis said.
"We're just wiping down everything to make sure we kill this bug," he said.
Porum Public Schools in Muskogee County closed Friday because of a high number of illness-related absences, according to its website.
Chouteau-Mazie Public Schools also closed Friday because of the flu, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
Oklahoma and 46 other states are reporting geographically widespread flu activity, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Lewis said it's important for people to wash their hands frequently and to stay home when they are sick.
"If you know you are sick, do not expose people unnecessarily," she said.
Health officials say the best way to protect against the flu is to get a flu shot.
Flu prevention tips
Cover your mouth and 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
The Tulsa City-County Health Department is extending its Friday hours for flu clinics. The vaccine will be available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each weekday at three sites:
Original Print Headline: Schools closing because of flu
- The James O. Goodwin Health Center, 5051 S. 129th East Ave.
- The Central Regional Health Center, 315 S. Utica Ave.
- The North Regional Health and Wellness Center, 5635 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Shannon Muchmore 918-581-8378