One gift the state Health Department hopes you don't give this holiday season is the flu bug.
Public health officials are reminding residents to get their flu shots before hosting guests and also traveling to friends' and families' homes for the holidays.
The number of flu cases continues to rise in Oklahoma. Last week, seven residents were hospitalized because of flu-related illness, according to the state Health Department. A total of 51 residents have been hospitalized because of the flu since Sept. 30. No deaths have been confirmed this season.
Flu activity in Oklahoma has been increasing since late November and this week reached a “regional” level, meaning flu virus infections are being confirmed in more communities across the state, according to the Health Department.
The northwest and central areas of the state, along with Tulsa County, are experiencing the highest levels of flu-like illness.
Season comes early
Flu activity also continues to increase nationwide, with the U.S. experiencing an early flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC has reported high levels of activity concentrated in the south central and southeastern regions at this time.
States around Oklahoma, such as Texas and Arkansas, have seen widespread cases of the flu reported, according to the CDC.
An annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months old and older. Flu shots are available at county health departments and from health care providers, retail pharmacies and other outlets.