Flu Cases, Deaths On The Rise In Oklahoma

Friday, March 23rd 2012, 6:14 pm
By: News 9

Flu season is just now firing up in Oklahoma, with deaths related to the sickness doubling in just the past week and the number of people coming down with the flu on the rise as well.

Six people in Oklahoma have died of the flu this year, compared to 24 at the same time in 2011. That is because experts say flu season has hit much later than usual, peaking right now instead of winter.

But would a flu shot taken in the fall still be effective to fight the late spring flu bug? The Centers for Disease Control says second booster is not necessary at this time, but they always recommend you talk to your family doctor.

News 9 spoke with Dr. Savannah Stumph at the Mercy Clinic in Edmond about what she tells her flu patients. Until recently, she says she hadn't seen very many.

"We were all kind of waiting," Dr. Stumph said. "Where is it? Because we were ready."

The flu is just now starting to become widespread in Oklahoma

"We've actually only seen it in the last three weeks," Stumph said.

Stumph says with flu cases popping up, she hopes everyone had a flu shot in the fall. She says that while there are more cases of the flu right now, it's nowhere near the flu numbers of years past.

"I wouldn't [recommend a second shot] at this time. I don't think we're seeing any individuals that those shots in the fall aren't sufficient to cover during spring."

Chief medical correspondent, Dr. Mary Bawman agrees with Stumph and the CDC. She wouldn't recommend a second flu shot right now for everyone. Bawman does however say there are exceptions for people with medical problems or various health conditions.

Stumph says families should be prepared and get the flu shot if they haven't already.

"Babies, once they're 6 months, the elderly, and pregnant women," said Stumph.

According to the Associated Press, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reports the latest deaths include two in Oklahoma County and one in Osage County. The department says two of the deaths were in the 19-64 year-old age group and the other was 65 or older.

Also according to the AP, the total number of confirmed cases since Jan. 1 increased by 59 to 245. The department says the number of confirmed cases at the same time in 2011 was 828 with about two dozen of those cases resulting in death.