McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State news

January 7, 2014

Flu season is in high gear

ENID, Okla. — Influenza season in Oklahoma has kicked into high gear.

According to statistics from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the 63 hospital admissions statewide for influenza between Dec. 23 and Dec. 31 doubled the cumulative number of admissions during the flu season — a total that now stands at 126.

Oklahoma is one of 27 states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies as having “widespread” flu cases.

Dawn May, infection preventionist for Integris Bass Baptist Health Center, said Bass has not had many patients admitted for flu.

“Yes, statewide, influenza is starting to ramp up,” May said. “I can tell you since the start of the influenza season, we’ve only had one identified flu case that has been admitted.”

May estimates that five to eight patients treated in the emergency room at Bass had positive test results when given rapid flu tests.

Martha Del Toro, director of marketing for St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, said two patients have been admitted for flu and five tested positive but did not need to be admitted.

“Usually, you’re going to start seeing the flu pick up the last part of December and into January,” May said. “This is kind of par for the course.”

May attributes the uptick to people spending time indoors together, not covering coughs or washing hands, and not staying home when sick. These activities spread germs around, May said.

“Don’t forget the flu shot,” May added. “It’s still not too late to get the flu shot.”

It takes a week or two for a flu shot to build full immunity, but flu shots are especially important for people at high risk, May said.

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