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Health officials: 2 Oklahomans die from the flu

U.S. Sgt. Benjamin Miceli draws an H1N1 flu vaccine at a troop medical clinic. Credit: Dustin Senger/Department of Defe

OKLAHOMA CITY – The holiday season is upon us, and doctors are warning that the flu is spreading.

“It is very easy to catch any sort of illness this time of year with all the hugs, handshakes and shared surfaces at parties or shopping malls,” said OMRF immunologist Eliza Chakravarty, M.D. “The flu can spread like wildfire, and these settings can act just like kindling.”

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, two people have died from the flu within the last week.

At this point, officials are not releasing where the patients lived due to HIPAA rules. However, they say both deaths occurred in patients who were over the age of 65.

Experts say 19 Oklahomans had to be hospitalized between Nov. 22 and Nov. 28 due to the flu. So far, there have been 105 hospitalizations associated with the flu statewide.

“The number of flu cases is relatively high for this time of year, and public health officials are concerned there will be a high risk of spreading the flu during the holiday season. The highest number of flu-related hospitalizations has occurred among those who are older than 50 years of age, as well as children younger than 5, which are both groups at greater risk of experiencing severe illness and complications due to flu,” a release from the health department reads.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say you should be vigilant with washing your hands, avoid touching your eyes and mouth, get plenty of sleep and eat healthy to help give your immune system a boost. Also, experts suggest getting the flu shot.

“Getting the flu is an awful experience. Getting it during the holiday season is even worse,” said Chakravarty. “So if you need to be out and about running errands and meeting up with friends and family, it’s wise to protect yourself–and them–as best you can.”

Doctors say a typical flu season in Oklahoma usually runs from October to May.

If you get sick, look out for severe aches and pains in your muscles and joints, notable fatigue and weakness, headaches and a high fever.

If you are experiencing those symptoms, call a doctor as soon as possible. Experts also say you should not go to work or school if you have a fever.