Okla. Health Dep. says 5 people have died from flu

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Flu has claimed five lives and landed 242 Oklahomans in the hospital since Oct. 1, state Health Department statistics released Thursday show.

The statistics, which were posted on the agency’s website, show this season’s recorded flu deaths happened in Kay, Le Flore, Osage, Pittsburg and Tulsa counties. Two victims were between 18 and 49 years old and two were between 50 and 64. The remaining flu victim was 65 or older.

Oklahoma had only two recorded flu deaths by this point of the 2012-2013 flu season.

Tulsa County has experienced the highest rate of hospitalizations, 59, which comes to a rate of 9.6 per 100,000 people. Forty people have been hospitalized due to flu in Oklahoma County, for a rate of 5.4 per 100,000.

The Health Department said influenza-like illness is defined as having a fever in excess of 100 degrees combined with a cough or a sore throat. Health officials said most of the confirmed flu cases have involved the H1N1 virus, the same virus that caused the 2009 flu pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Oklahoma is one of 25 states where the prevalence of the contagious disease is considered widespread and among 20 states where flu activity is high.

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