OKLAHOMA CITY – The flu continues to claim the lives of Oklahomans, according to new data released by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
So far this year, officials with the Oklahoma State Department of Health say that 268 people have died from the flu since September.
In all, 26 people had to be hospitalized within the last week due to the flu virus, bringing the total number of hospitalizations to 4,583.
According to data released by the health department, it appears as though the peak of flu season occurred in January. Since then, the number of new flu cases has dramatically dropped.
Health reports state that almost all of the patients who died from the virus were over the age of 50.
Data shows that 25 of those who died from the flu were between the ages of 18-years-old and 49-years-old. Health officials also say a child under the age of 4-years-old died from the virus, and one child between the ages of 5-years-old and 17-years-old also died from the flu.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning that a new strain of the flu is making a push in the United States.
Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation immunologist Eliza Chakravarty, M.D., said influenza A has wreaked havoc across the country. Fortunately, those cases are now on the decline.
However, she says influenza B cases appear to be surging.
“Flu season is generally winding down, but we aren’t in the clear, and people need to remain vigilant in protecting themselves and their families, especially young children,” said Chakravarty. “Influenza B can be just as serious as influenza A, and it has been known to be severe in young children.”
Even though this year’s flu shot was largely ineffective against influenza A, experts say it appears to be more effective in preventing influenza B.
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.
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.