OKLAHOMA CITY – While the peak of flu season is behind us, new data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health is showing how much the virus affected the Sooner State.
So far this year, officials with the Oklahoma State Department of Health say that 279 people have died from the flu since September. Fortunately, none of those deaths occurred within the last week.
Also, health experts say 9 people had to be hospitalized within the last week due to the flu virus, bringing the total number of hospitalizations to 4,656 this season.
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 26 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 month, 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.