State health officials on Thursday reported seven more people have died from the flu this season, including one juvenile patient.
A total of 30 fatalities have been reported since the flu season began in September. Three new deaths were confirmed in early February through testing, and four previous deaths have been confirmed through testing, according to Oklahoma State Department of Health records.
Five of those deaths were recorded in the eastern Oklahoma regions, including one death in Tulsa County. For the 2019-20 flu season, five flu deaths have been reported in Tulsa County.
The first juvenile death, in the 5 to 17 years old age range, was reported Thursday. The juvenile patient was from the east central region, a Health Department spokesman said.
An additional adult death was recorded, and five more deaths were recorded in the 50 to 64 and 65+ age ranges. A pediatric death of a patient 5 or younger was reported earlier.
About 250 more hospitalizations were reported this week, totaling 1,688 hospitalizations for the season.
Influenza spreads annually, usually between October and May, through coughing, sneezing and close contact.
The flu strikes suddenly and can last several days, and the Health Department recommends the flu vaccine as the No. 1 defense against contracting the virus or lessening its symptoms. Symptoms vary by age but can include:
• Sore throat, cough
• Muscle aches, fatigue
• Headache, runny or stuffy nose
Symptoms can develop into more complex complications, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, or sinus and ear infections, and adversely affect those already suffering from a medical condition like heart or lung disease.
Officials urge those experiencing symptoms to consult with a primary care provider as soon as possible.
Prescribed antiviral drugs are more effective when initiated within 48 hours of noticing symptoms and could also be a prevention measure for especially vulnerable populations recently exposed to the flu.
The Health Department recommends patients be free of fever for at least 24 hours before leaving home again.
The public can cover coughs and sneezes with tissues and wash hands often to prevent the spread of the flu.