3 more Oklahomans die from the flu
BY SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writer
Friday, February 01, 2013
2/01/13 at 8:02 AM
Three more Oklahomans died from the flu this past week, but the number of hospitalizations reported remained stable, health officials said.
Seventeen people in Oklahoma have died from the flu this season. Four of those deaths have been in Tulsa County, which has by far the most hospitalizations at 216, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
The number of hospitalizations reported last week was 78, bringing the total since Sept. 30 to 722. The week before, 71 new hospitalizations were reported, and in weeks before that the number had been 130 to 140.
The flu is "definitely in full swing now," said Dr. Kala Omstead, a family practice physician with the Utica Park Clinic.
Twelve of those who died have been 65 or older, and the rest have been between the ages of 19 and 64, according to the state Health Department.
Flu deaths also have been reported in Cleveland, Comanche, Creek, Mayes, Muskogee, Oklahoma, Pittsburg, Rogers and Stephens counties.
The state Health Department doesn't track whether those who are hospitalized or die from the flu received the flu shot or had a pre-existing medical condition.
Jay Public Schools canceled classes for Friday because of high numbers of students out with the flu, officials said. It is the latest in several school districts that have canceled classes in recent weeks because of high rates of flu.
Omstead said this flu season has been typical and will likely last four to six more weeks.
Anyone who wants to take antiviral medication to help lessen flu symptoms should do so within 48 hours of the onset of those symptoms, she said.
Oklahoma is among 26 states reporting high flu activity and 47 states reporting widespread geographic activity. More than 6,000 hospitalizations have been reported nationally since Oct. 1, which is a rate of more than 22 hospitalizations per 100,000 people.
Omstead said that although the flu vaccine is not 100 percent effective, it's still the best way to protect against the flu and it's still not too late to get vaccinated.
People should also wash their hands frequently, cover their coughs and stay home from work or school when they are sick, she said.
"Prevention is everything," Omstead said.
Tips for preventing the spread of flu
Avoid contact: Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them.
Stay home: If possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick to help prevent others from catching your illness.
Cover up: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing or cough into the crook of your elbow.
Stay clean: Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
Keep your hands down: Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
Good habits: Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Original Print Headline: Flu kills 3 more in state; hospitals seeing plateaus
Shannon Muchmore 918-581-8378