CCMH official speaks on recent flu problems - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

CCMH official speaks on recent flu problems

(Source ABC) (Source ABC)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - Nine more Oklahomans have died from the flu in just the past week. That brings this season’s total up to 37.

That's per the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Most those deaths were people over the age of 65 and nearly half are from Tulsa and Oklahoma Counties. The Health Department says so far this year, more than 1,400 people have been hospitalized for influenza-related illnesses.

There have been two deaths in Stephens county but so far, none in Comanche County. However, there have been dozens of people hospitalized for the flu.

Emergency Medicine Resident at Comanche County Memorial Hospital Devin Toll said the emergency room has been full of people coming in with flu-like symptoms. He said anyone can get the flu, but how serious it is various person to person.

"If it’s a very healthy patient he may just have generalized symptoms like your average cough,” Toll said. “It's not a fun disease to have, they still have extreme body aches, headache, fever, chills, but if it's someone who is sicker more chronically, it can affect them much more."

Toll said over the last few weeks, the flu has been much worse than it had been over the previous few months.

"Initially the flu did not hit Lawton on the earlier stage like we've seen in the past,” Toll said. “This year it seems the flu crept back up in the later months. Since the January - February time, the flu has been a significant issue in Lawton.”

On February 18th, the Centers for Disease Control announced the flu vaccine has been 48-percent effective in preventing laboratory-confirmed flu viruses. Despite that, Toll highly suggested getting a flu shot but said the flu vaccine is not a fool-proof method.

"Because the flu changes every year, what the scientists have to do, the people who create the vaccine have to determine which strain is going to be the bad strain the next year,” Toll said. “So it's always hard to tell which strain is going to be the bad one."

Per the CDC, this year's vaccine is not as effective against the dominant strain and it's about as effective as last year's vaccine. But there are ways other than the shot that you can help protect yourself from the flu.

“Good hand hygiene will help decrease the spread of the flu,” Toll said. “If you do have a cough, make sure you cover up your cough to try to not spread those droplets. Additionally, eating healthy and regular exercise will help keep your immune system strong."

Toll said if you start having flu-like symptoms you should see your primary-care physician first before heading to the emergency room.
He said going to the emergency room can make your health worse because of how many sick people go to emergency room.

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