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Officials: Flu virus to blame for deaths of 45 Oklahomans

OKLAHOMA CITY –Although health officials are warning Oklahomans about the dangers of the flu, the number of deaths associated with the virus continues to rise.

Experts say that 288 people had to be hospitalized within the last week due to the flu virus, bringing the total number of hospitalizations to 1,141.

“This year, we’ve had increased activity and Oklahoma was one of the first states to start experiencing more widespread activity,” said Dr. David Chansolme M.D, Medical Director of Infection Prevention for Integris Health.

According to hospitalization numbers from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, residents in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties accounted for the most flu hospitalizations in the state.

Oklahoma County recorded 299 hospitalizations, while Tulsa County recorded 338 hospitalizations. The next closest county is Cleveland County, which recorded just 96 hospitalizations this season.

Credit: Oklahoma State Department of Health

So far, officials with the Oklahoma State Department of Health say that 45 people have died from the virus since September.

Within the last week, three people have died from the flu.

Health reports state that all of the patients who died from the virus were over the age of 50.

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.

The strain of flu going around is the H3-strain, which makes this year’s flu shots only 30-40 percent effective.

Despite those numbers, experts still suggest getting the vaccine, adding that it lessens the symptoms and prevents serious complications from occurring.

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.