Flu hits hard in Oklahoma, worse in Tulsa County

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Reported by: Lynn Casey
Updated: 1/09 10:43 pm Published: 1/09 10:39 pm

As many sick people around town well know—flu season is in full swing. It’s not only spiked around the country but in Oklahoma too. Flu deaths here went from zero to five in just the past week.

Nearly 250 people in the state have been hospitalized since October with the flu. Nearly 100 checked in just last week. Tulsa County has the highest rate of hospitalization in the state, and by a large margin.

The flu deaths from last week happened in Kay, Le Flore, Osage, Pittsburgh and Tulsa Counties. It’s a jarring reminder that the flu may be common, but it’s still something people should take seriously. There are certain kinds of people at higher risk than others.

“People who have problems with repertory illnesses, such as smokers and people with emphysema, it tends to affect them harder. It also tends to affect people who have immune problems,” said Dr. Mark Rowland. He’s the Epidemiologist for the St. Francis Health System.

Lots of local pharmacies have felt the effect of the flu spike. That’s because many of them had so many customers with the virus that they ran out of Tamiflu.

“We’ve seen a real spike in the number of Tamiflu prescriptions written, and also the number of people requesting flu shots,” said Chris Schiller, from Economy Pharmacy.

The pharmacy, on the St. Francis campus, has been able to keep its shelves stocked with the drug.

“Tamiflu is an anti-viral medication that doctors prescribe if someone in your family has come down with the flu, or experienced flu-like symptoms. What it does is it shortens the duration of the flu or decreases the severity of the illness,” said Schiller.

Dr. Rowland says your best bet is still to get a flu shot, and many pharmacies still have plenty in stock.

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