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FOR RELEASE: January 16, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Two Types of Flu Now Circulating in Oklahoma

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has confirmed the first case of Influenza Type A in Oklahoma this year. The agency’s Public Health Laboratory performed the virus typing and reports the case is from Oklahoma County. The OSDH is alerting the public of the potential for a second wave of influenza to hit Oklahoma this season.

Earlier in December 2002, OSDH reported the first cases of Influenza Type B, Hong Kong-like strain. Numerous cases of Type B flu continue to be reported, especially in children, with levels apparently peaking in mid- to late December.

Individuals who have not yet received a flu shot are encouraged to do so. Influenza vaccine is still available and can offer protection for the newly identified Type A strain.

“It is possible for someone to get the flu twice in one season. I would encourage those people who have not yet been vaccinated to consider getting the flu shot,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Leslie Beitsch.

Because the flu virus is transmitted from person to person, health officials urge good hygiene practices to decrease the chances of getting the flu. If you have a child with the flu, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends doing the following to prevent its spread:

  • Avoid kissing your infected child on or around the mouth, although hugging is OK.
  • Teach your child to cover his nose and mouth with tissues when coughing or sneezing and to put the tissue in the wastebasket.
  • Wash hands both before and after caring for your sick child.
  • Wash your child's eating utensils in hot, soapy water or in the dishwasher.
  • Don't allow others to share drinking glasses, utensils or toothbrushes.
  • Use disposable paper cups in the bathroom and kitchen.

It is extremely important that aspirin NOT be given to a child who has the flu or is suspected of having the flu. An increased risk of developing Reye syndrome is associated with aspirin use to treat symptoms of influenza or other viral illnesses. Reye syndrome is a serious disease that affects the liver and central nervous system.

Remember that it is possible to get the flu more than once in a season and to take precautions by getting a flu shot. For more information about flu shots, contact the county health department in your area or your physician’s office. Weekly updates from Oklahoma’s Influenza Surveillance program can also be found at the OSDH website: http://www.health.state.ok.us.

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