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FOR RELEASE: November 25, 2003
CONTACT: Leslea Bennet-Webb
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Influenza Death Reported in a Tulsa County Child

The Oklahoma State Department of Health and Tulsa City-County Health Department announced today that a 13-year-old asthmatic female from Tulsa County died of probable influenza-related complications early Sunday morning. An influenza screening test was positive; public health officials are awaiting results of confirmatory tests.

Oklahoma State Department of Health officials report they are seeing a significant increase in influenza activity in the state, particularly among children. The Oklahoma Influenza Surveillance System has detected an increase in influenza activity among children in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City metropolitan areas as well as the southern regions of the state. Children may be significant in the spread of influenza, as outbreaks among school children can herald the start of influenza activity in a community.

State and local county health department officials urge those who have not yet received their flu shot, especially older adults and those in high-risk groups, to do so as soon as possible.

Health officials also say the influenza vaccine should be given to the following high-risk groups of children 6 months of age and older to reduce their risk of severe disease or death:

  • those with chronic heart or lung conditions, including asthma;
  • those who need regular medical care or had to be in a hospital because of metabolic diseases (especially diabetes), chronic kidney disease, or weakened immune system; and
  • those who are on long-term aspirin therapy.

Furthermore, the Oklahoma State Department of Health encourages influenza vaccine for all children to reduce the spread of the disease in the population.

In addition to influenza vaccination, there are other steps that can be taken to prevent the spread of influenza, which include washing hands regularly, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and staying home from school or work when sick. You should also avoid crowds during the peak influenza season, particularly if you are at high risk for severe complications of the flu.

The influenza vaccine is safe and effective in preventing influenza in children and adults. It’s the best way to protect your family against the flu. Contact your health care provider for the vaccine or call your local county health department to find out if there are special influenza clinics in your area.

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