LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - 45 deaths are now attributed to the flu across Oklahoma, including eight deaths in southwest Oklahoma.
The Health Department says three people died since last Friday, while the other 20 deaths were late reports. More than 1,100 Oklahomans have been hospitalized since flu season began in September.
With the flu impacting so many people, it's important now more than ever to take the correct precautionary steps to prevent the flu from spreading.
"The flu is spread by respiratory droplets, so coughing or sneezing," said Rena Evans with the Comanche County Health Department. "So, it's important to cover your cough, most importantly. Secondly, to wash your hands frequently. Even if your hands don't look visibly dirty, wash them or use an alcohol-based sanitary solution to be able to clean your hands."
When we get a sore throat or a cough, some of us tend to simply try to power through, but Evans said that is the exact opposite of what you should do.
"Whenever the person gets the flu-like symptoms, fever, body aches, chills, cough, sore throat, they really should see their medical provider. Then stay home until they're without any symptoms and fever free for 24 hours. They shouldn't go to school, back to work, they increase the risk of spreading it. You can spread the flu for up to a week after your symptoms appear," Evans said.
Evans said powering through and trying to beat the flu on your own can end up having some very dire consequences.
"Flu can cause death," Evans said. "It's generally related to a complication from the flu. A lot of times pneumonia, people with altered immune systems, the elderly, the young, pregnant they're the highest risk for developing the flu and having complications from the flu. It's important that certainly, those high-risk groups protect themselves and others."
Evans says if possible, try to avoid anyone who may be sick with the flu to prevent catching and spreading it further. She also said even though this year's flu shot is only 30 percent effective, it will provide some protection, so she said it is never too late to get a flu shot.