McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

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January 9, 2014

Pittsburg County woman dies of flu related illness

McALESTER — A Pittsburg County woman has died of a flu related illness, officials say.

This is the first flu-related death in Pittsburg County this year, according to Mike Echelle director of the Pittsburg County Health Department.

He said the woman was between the ages of 18 and 49 years-of age.

Echelle said this the fifth flu-related death in the state this year.

There has been one death each in Pittsburg, Osage, Kay, LeFlore and Tulsa counties; two of the deaths involved individuals between the ages of 18 and 49; two were between 50 and 64; and one death was a person who was over 65-years- old, according to Laurence Burnsed division administrative program manager for the State of Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Burnsed said the best way to protect against flu is to get the flu vaccine, according

“The this year’s flu strain is affecting more young and middle aged adults than usual this year,” he said.

“The good news is this year’s vaccine contains H1N1-2009 which is well-matched to the circulating strain.”

And its not to late to the get the flu vaccine which is available as an injection or as a mist.

Burnsed said because January and February are the peak times for catching the flu “now would be a good time for a shot.”

There have been 8 influenze associated hospitalizations in Pittsburg County according to ok.gov.

Echelle urges everyone ages  6- months of age and older to get the vaccine to protect themselves and those around them from influenza.

He said the flu vaccine is available at the Pittsburg County Health Department and other agencies in the area.

The health department is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The cost is $25 which can be waived for those who meet certain income requirements, Echelle said.

For more information call 918-423-1267.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.

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Reader photo Dr. Jai Surana, left, looks over documents with McAlester Regional Health Center Physician Services Administrator Helen Wheeler on Wednesday at the hospital.

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