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FOR RELEASE: November 8 , 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

Influenza Confirmed in Oklahoma

*Note to Editors: Unlike many communicable diseases that are required to be reported to state health departments, all influenza activity reporting by states and health-care providers is voluntary. The reported information answers the questions of where, when, and what influenza viruses are circulating. It can be used to determine if influenza activity is increasing or decreasing, but surveillance information cannot be used to ascertain how many people have become ill with influenza during the influenza season. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) announced today the first laboratory confirmation of influenza activity in the state for the 2007-2008 flu season. This first seasonal indication of influenza is from Oklahoma County where laboratory results identified type B influenza virus.

The OSDH tracks influenza activity each year using a sentinel-reporting network of medical clinics and laboratories distributed regionally across the state.* No other regions of the state have reported positive influenza tests so far this season. Oklahoma joins 14 other states as reporting “sporadic” flu activity.

“Now is the time for everyone to get their flu shot,” said Secretary of Health and Commissioner of Health Dr. Mike Crutcher. “The flu shot is safe and effective and the single best way to prevent the flu. It cannot give you the flu. It may, however, take from three to 14 days after receiving the shot to develop an immune response.”

Crutcher said all county health departments have received their supply of vaccine and are conducting flu clinics for children and adults. Persons who need a flu shot for themselves or their children should contact their private health care provider or their local county health department to see where vaccine is offered in their area. FluMist, a nasal-spray flu vaccine that provides a more rapid immunity in three to four days, is also an option for healthy persons aged 2 to 49 years who are not pregnant.

Each year the flu vaccine offers protection from three common strains circulating the globe – two Type A strains and one Type B. Although anyone can become infected with influenza B, children will usually show symptoms more frequently than adults. Influenza B infections typically result in a less severe and shorter duration of illness than influenza A infections among all age groups, including children.

Nearly 36,000 Americans die of influenza each year and as many as 200,000 are hospitalized. Persons over 6 months of age are encouraged to be vaccinated to lower their risk of influenza. Persons in the following risk categories are especially advised to get a flu shot:

  • Persons aged 50 years and older, with and without chronic health conditions
  • Residents of long-term care facilities
  • Persons 2 to 49 years of age with chronic health conditions
  • Children aged 6 months to 23 months
  • Pregnant women
  • Health-care personnel who provide direct patient care
  • Household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children 6 months or younger

State public health officials also recommend practicing “those things Mom always told you” to decrease the spread of respiratory viruses, including washing hands frequently, covering your cough, and avoiding touching the face.

Because the use of aspirin for children with influenza has been associated with
Reye syndrome, health officials caution that aspirin should not be given to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms, particularly fever. Use instead medications such acetaminophen, to relieve fever and muscle aches associated with the flu.

For more information about influenza, contact the county health department in your area or check out this OSDH Web site: http://www.health.state.ok.us/program/cdd/flu/index.html.


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