Thirty-three Oklahomans have died from the flu during the current season, according to the State Health Department.
Flu activity remains widespread in Oklahoma, where 975 people have been hospitalized due to the flu since Sept. 29, according to Oklahoma State Department of Health’s weekly update released Thursday.
Across the country, for the week of Jan. 19-25, 38 states reported widespread geographic flu activity, a decrease from 41 states, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The South Central and Southeast are experiencing declines while the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are experiencing increases in activity.
The highest hospitalization rates are among people age 65 and older followed by people 50-64 years and children younger than age 5. In most seasons, the very young (0-4 years) and the elderly (age 65 and older) have the highest hospitalization rates.
However, of the 5,494 flu-associated hospitalizations reported this season, more than 60 percent have been in people 18-64. This pattern of more hospitalizations among younger people also was seen during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.
Flu activity is likely to continue for some time, according to the CDC.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms include fever (not everyone with the flu has a fever), cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children).
People with flu can spread it to others up to 6 feet away through coughs and sneezes. Most adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. Young children and people with weakened immune systems might be able to infect others for an even longer time.
Nationwide, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the U.S. range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people, according to the CDC.
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