This year's flu season has been proclaimed the worst in years by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That reality is starting to hit Oklahoma in a very tragic way.
Currently, the Oklahoma Department of Health is reporting some new statistics for the 2017-18 flu season.
As of February 2, 2018, they are reporting that the death toll from the flu in Oklahoma has risen to 92 people. Of those 92, only 12 were in the age range of 18-49. The majority of flu deaths occurred for those age 50 and older. 62 of those were cases of people age 65 and older.
For comparison, the total number of deaths in all of last year's flu season totaled 110 people.
The Oklahoma Department of Health is also reporting 2,500 cases of hospitalization from flu symptoms in Oklahoma.
How to prevent the flu
The CDC recommends taking three important actions against the flu:
Get the flu vaccine
Take everyday measures to prevent the flu
Take antiviral drugs as prescribed by your doctor
The flu vaccine
This is the most important step in preventing the flu. Health experts recommend getting the flu vaccine in the end of October.
Of course, that doesn't mean it is too late! The vaccine only takes about two weeks to begin its effectiveness. So, if you haven't gotten yours yet, there is still time.
The flu vaccine can be administered in anyone age 6 months or older. Who should get the flu vaccine? The answer is everybody, but it is most important for young children, pregnant women, people age 65 and older, and people with chronic health conditions.
Everyday flu prevention measures
Preventing the spread of the flu may be difficult, but it is possible. Aside from getting the flu shot and taking medications prescribed by your doctor, here are some basic everyday ways to prevent the spread of the flu:
Wash you hands frequently with soap and water. If this is not available, use alcohol based hand sanitizers.
Avoid contact with those that have flu symptoms.
Cover your cough! Use a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If these aren't available, cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm.
Clean and disinfect surfaces often, especially those that may be contaminated with the flu. Important areas to keep in mind: doorknobs, handles, and remote controls.
If you feel flu like symptoms, stay home from work. If you are at work, go home sick as soon as you can. Stay home until you have been fever free without medication for at least 24 hours.
For more information on flu symptoms and flu prevention, check out this article.
If you test positive for the flu, or are living with someone that has tested positive, your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs like Tamiflu. (What is Tamiflu? Click here for an article with more info on what it is, what it does, and side effects).
What is an antiviral drug? Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They help stop the replication of a virus within your body but do not stop it completely. They are useful within 2 days of the first sign of symptoms and work to lessen the amount of time that you are sick.
It is also important to pay attention to your symptoms after the flu is over. It can often turn into bronchitis or pneumonia. Read this article to find out how to spot the difference between them.
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Source: KSWO, CDC