Seven more flu deaths were confirmed Thursday in Oklahoma, bringing the number of people who have died this flu season to 12, the state Health Department reported.
The deaths attributed to the flu have happened since Sept. 29. The total includes one child, the Health Department reported.
Four of the deaths were among people who were between the ages of 18 and 49 years old. Another four were among adults who were between 50 and 64 years old.
Three people from Tulsa County have died and two victims were in Comanche County. Other counties with deaths are Cleveland, Kay, Le Flore, McClain, Okmulgee, Osage and Pittsburg.
A total of 122 new flu hospitalizations were reported in the past week. That brings the total number of Oklahomans hospitalized because of the flu to 399 since late September.
Flu season in Oklahoma generally runs until late April or early May.
So far, this year's flu season seems typical and isn't outpacing other years, said Laurence Burnsed, director of the state Health Department's communicable disease division.
However, things could always change.
“The predictable thing about the flu is that every year can be unpredictable,” Burnsed said.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that is caused by influenza viruses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are two main types of influenza virus: Types A and B.
The CDC reports the influenza A and B viruses that routinely spread in people are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics each year.
Burnsed said the 2009 H1N1 strain of Influenza A has been the main strain affecting Oklahoma residents this season.
“The important point about that strain is that it is one that is included in the vaccine this year, and we know that it seems to be a good match,” Burnsed said. “If individuals have not received their flu shot yet, we still recommend that.”
Flu shots are available at county health departments, many health care providers' offices and at some pharmacies. County health departments have discount programs for low-income adults along with uninsured and underinsured children.