The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) announced the first death caused by the flu in the state. The death occurred in Tulsa County in a patient who was 65 years of age and older. There have been 53 influenza-associated hospitalizations reported statewide. Persons of all ages have been hospitalized due to influenza; however, the highest rate has occurred among persons 50 years of age and older.
The OSDH reminds the public that we are just at the beginning of the flu season. The single best way to protect against flu and its consequences is to get the flu vaccine. All county health departments are providing flu immunizations at no out-of-pocket costs and pharmacies and health care providers also have vaccine available. Health officials urge everyone 6 months of age and older to get the vaccine to protect themselves and those around them from influenza, especially babies too young to receive a vaccination. High-dose vaccine is also available for those over the age of 65. It takes about two weeks after getting a flu shot for a person’s immune system to respond and provide defenses against influenza viruses.
Those who already have the flu can spread it to others even before they feel sick. One may have the flu if they have some or all of these symptoms:
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Body aches
It is important for those experiencing flu-like symptoms to consult with a health care provider as soon as possible. Antiviral drugs may be prescribed to treat the flu. These drugs work better for treatment when started within 48 hours of noticing symptoms. Influenza antiviral drugs may also be indicated as a prevention measure to protect those who have just been exposed to someone diagnosed with influenza and are especially vulnerable.
Certain people are at greater risk of serious flu-related complications. Young children, elderly, pregnant women and people with some long-term medical conditions are reminded to contact their health care provider as soon as they develop flu symptoms.
The OSDH recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone. Avoid going to work, school, social events and public gatherings as well as traveling and shopping. The fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as acetaminophen before returning to a regular routine.
To prevent the spread of the flu, the public is reminded to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and wash hands often.
For more information about influenza and activity updates, visit the Ok Flu View at flu.health.ok.gov