Oklahoma, like much of the nation, continues to experience widespread influenza-like illnesses, ILI. In this 2012-13 flu season that began Sept. 30, the Sooner state has seen a total of 484 hospitalizations with the illness, compared to a total of 316 hospitalizations for the entire September-May 2011-12 flu season.
Oklahoma State Department of Health Releases Newest Flu Data
Hospitalization numbers for ILI so far this flu season in Oklahoma were highest in the period between Dec. 25 through Jan. 1 and are since receding. The number of deaths attributed to complications from the flu remained unchanged for the week ending Jan. 15 at eight, with four of those deaths having occurred in people age 19 to 64 and four deaths in people age 65 and older.
Hospitalization for the flu by age revealed that those in the 5-18 age group have made up lowest number, percentage-wise, of those hospitalized at 6.8 percent, those in the age group newborn to 4 comprised 15.1 percent of the flu hospitalizations, people age 19 through age 64 have comprised 23.4 percent of the total hospitalization, and those age 65 years and older have represented 51.7 percent of all people hospitalized with the flu in Oklahoma.
Comparisons with Previous Flu Season Data
Patient visits to health care providers for the illness, which spiked in that same period, initially revealed a downward trend, but increased slightly in the week ending Jan. 15.
The spike in patient visits for ILI to health care providers occurred the earliest this flu season compared with flu seasons beginning 2010-11, but the peak number of such visits so far this influenza season at slightly higher than 10 percent of patient visits being due to ILI is well below that of the 2010-11 that peaked at 15 percent in the third week of January 2011.
The 2011-12 flu season saw its top spike for flu-related patient visits to health care providers mid-March 2012, when the spike was at approximately 7 percent to 8 percent, versus this season's early peak rate of 10 percent.
Advice from OSDH on What to Do If You Become Ill with the Flu
The Oklahoma State Department of Health, OSDH, released an information page on its website with advice on what Oklahoma residents should do if they become ill with the flu. The most basic and sound advice is to stay home and avoid contact with other people except to seek medical care. Stay at home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone -- without the use of fever-reducing medication.
OSDH provided reassurances that most people will experience a mild flu illness that doesn't require medical care or antiviral medications, but that if you experience severe symptoms or have concerns about the effects of the flu to contact your health care provider.
Extra caution is urged for both infants and adults with specific symptoms: Infants who are breathing rapidly or having trouble breathing; bluish skin color; not taking enough fluids; fewer wet diapers than usual; fever with a rash; not waking up or interacting; too fussy to even be held; cries but unable to produce tears; refusal to eat. In adults, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, pain or discomfort in chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, or persistent vomiting are indications that medical attention is needed.
For both infants and adults, flu symptoms that improve but then return with a fever and worsened cough should seek medical attention.
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