According to the Bryan County American Red Cross, the Centers for Disease Control is calling this year’s influenza outbreak the worst in several years.
Pat Fowler, State Health Department Administrative Director for Bryan, Choctaw, Pushmataha, and McCurtain counties, said that the flu is more active this year than in the recent past.
Fowler said that the state health department reported close to 400 cases statewide as of last week and it has not yet hit its peak.
“Fortunately there have not been a lot of confirmed cases in the Durant area,” said Fowler. He said that the Bryan County Health Department has vaccine available at the moment.
Fowler said that the Bryan County Health Department immunized over 150 people during a flu clinic held this past Saturday.
He said he encourages people to get to the health department and get vaccinated. Fowler confirmed that this year’s strain of the virus is slightly different than in the past.
Fowler said the vaccine is approximately 62 percent effective in preventing the flu this year. He said the immunization will make the virus less serious if someone does still contract it.
Fowler said the best ways to avoid the flu this year are to get the immunization, wash your hands frequently and stay out of crowds as much as possible.
The American Red Cross also said that covering the mouth when coughing and sneezing, avoiding touching eyes, mouth and nose and keeping hands clean may also be ways to avoid the virus.
The Red Cross also provided a list of tips for caring for a person with the flu. Some tips include having the infected person rest for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, designating a sick room for all infected and ensuring the infected parties drink plenty of clear liquids.
The sick room should have supplies such as hand-sanitizer, tissues, a trash can, cold drinks, thermometers and a humidifier to ease breathing.
Symptoms of influenza include high fever, severe body aches, headache, fatigue, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose and vomiting or diarrhea.
A physician should be consulted if the infected person has fast breathing, trouble breathing, discolored skin or confusion and dizziness.
Danger signs for children include fever, rash, absence of tears when crying and significantly less wet diapers than normal.
Both the American Red Cross and the Oklahoma State Health Department are urging those who have not yet received an immunization to do so.