Even as the initial wave of swine flu panic has passed since the first case was reported in Oklahoma May 5, the new strain continues to be a problem in the state – and the nation – as the health department announced seven news cases in Oklahoma on Thursday.


Even as the initial wave of swine flu panic has passed since the first case was reported in Oklahoma May 5, the new strain continues to be a problem in the state – and the nation – as the health department announced seven news cases in Oklahoma on Thursday.
Leslea Bennett-Webb, communications director for the Oklahoma State Department of Health, said Wednesday that despite a decrease in swine flu-related media coverage, the H1N1 virus continues to spread in the state and shows no sign of tapering off. As of Thursday, there were 75 confirmed cases in Oklahoma, she said.
“It’s consistent and we continue to see transmissibility across the state - and the nation for that matter,” Bennett-Webb said. “As of right now, I don’t think we’ve hit a plateau by any means. Not yet.”
Like a lot of health officials have relayed to the media in recent weeks, Bennett-Webb said Wednesday that the swine flu currently circulating is of the mild variety. That catching it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll die.
But she did say the virus was “odd” and that it could be a problem for Oklahomans because of some of the infection trends that are emerging thus far.
“It’s problematic for us because this type of flu is hitting young adults, which is a population that’s not usually affected like this,” Bennett-Webb said. “Why is it hitting young people? We really don’t know.”
“Right now, we’ve got more questions than answers,” she said.
Bennett-Webb said another strange thing about the confirmed cases of swine flu in Oklahoma is the distribution of the infected individuals. She said that the panhandle and the corners of the state seem almost unfazed by the outbreak.
“For whatever reason, it seems to be spreading more in central Oklahoma and, of course, the metropolitan areas,” she said.
And even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently at work on a swine flu vaccine, Bennett-Webb said convincing people to show up and take a shot is always a challenge, regardless of the possible consequences of not getting one.
“And if there is a new vaccine, it’s likely they’ll need to get a booster shot as well as the vaccine itself,” she said. “Combine that with the regular flu shot and that’s three shots, potentially.”
In the Tri-County area, Seminole has the lone confirmed case of swine flu - a teenager who fully recovered without hospitalization.
Nationwide, there are 7,927 “confirmed or probable” cases of swine flu and 11 deaths have been linked to the new strain.
Texas has 1,358 cases, the most in the nation.
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Andrew Knittle may be reached at 214-3926.