Flu Deaths Spike Across Oklahoma

Thursday, January 8th 2015, 11:24 pm
By: News 9

Flu deaths spike across Oklahoma, and the health department now reports 22 deaths, including a small child. The virus isn't showing signs of slowing down.

The symptoms are brutal, and it has taken several days even weeks for patients to recover.

They've got it now, but when the flu really starting hitting hard, there wasn't a box of Tamiflu on the shelf.

“We loaded up, and in one day we'd cleaned out all that we had, and the next day when I tried to order it even the wholesaler was out,” Ralph Abercrombie of Ralph's Family Pharmacy said.

Oklahoma has seen a big wave of the illness more so than in years past, and it's been packing a pretty good punch.

“It's been quite an increase this year than it was in previous years,” Dr. Josh Payne of Mercy Hospital said. “It came early, and we pretty much see it daily right now.”

Thursday the Oklahoma City County Health Department reported Oklahoma's first pediatric flu death in the under 4-years-old age bracket.

While the flu shot is always recommended, it hasn't been 100 percent effective this year. The symptoms people are coming down with are so bad they're showing up in emergency rooms left and right often needing breathing treatments or IV fluids.

“This one has been mostly upper respiratory, cough, fever, bad body aches,” Payne said. “Really bad body aches have been the number one complaint really, and shortness of breath.”

While Tamiflu helps, doctors are only prescribing it to the most vulnerable patients. It may be back in stock in some pharmacies, but it's still in high demand and expensive.

“You have to treat many times the whole family, and family members have to choose between the kids maybe getting the medicine and the adults maybe not and toughing it out, because they can't afford it,” Abercrombie said.

Ways to try to avoid the flu are pretty simple and basically boil down to good hygiene including hand washing.