MOORE — The first reported flu death in Cleveland County this year was announced last week by the Cleveland County Health Department.
Cleveland County Health Education Supervisor Amanda James said at this time the county does not know the age, gender and race of the patient or exactly when or where the death occurred. The information has not been released by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
An additional seven deaths were reported in the state last week in Cleveland, Comanche, McClain, Okmulgee and Tulsa counties, for a total of 12 deaths reported statewide this flu season, according to a news release from the Cleveland County Health Department.
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, influenza-associated hospitalizations now total 399, with 157 reported in the past week. A chart on the website shows a total of 20 influenza hospitalizations in Cleveland County from Sept. 29, 2013, to Jan. 14.
Kelly Wells, Norman Regional Health System spokesperson, said Norman Regional has had 13 influenza-related admissions since the beginning of January, with large volumes of patients testing positive at all three campus emergency departments.
“Majority of the cases have been influenza A which is consistent with the Oklahoma State Department of Health influenza surveillance,” she said in an email. “We have had positive influenza cases since late fall; however, an increase in cases started the week of Jan. 5.”
James said it is common for reports of flu to increase in January, with this year’s trends similar to years past. And though the vaccine has been available for a few months now, James stressed it is not too late to receive the vaccine.
Influenza A (H1N1) viruses are what the county are seeing the most of this year, James said, and the vaccine helps protect against the virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, flu vaccines are designed to protect against H1N1 viruses, influenza A (H3N2) viruses, and influenza B viruses. The seasonal vaccines are designed to protect against influenza viruses that experts predict will be the most common during the upcoming season. The 2013-2014 trivalent influenza vaccine is made from: an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus; an A(H3N2) virus antigenically like the cell-propagated prototype virus A/Victoria/361/2011; and a B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus.