As the numbers of flu cases are on the rise here in Shawnee, five more Oklahomans have died from influenza this season, bringing the total to 25 lives lost, including one death now reported nearby in Seminole County.

As the numbers of flu cases are on the rise here in Shawnee, five more Oklahomans have died from influenza this season, bringing the total to 25 lives lost, including one death now reported nearby in Seminole County.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health has announced that 25 people have died since Sept. 29 while about 800 others have been hospitalized because of the illness.

At St. Anthony Shawnee Hospital, the number of flu cases dramatically increased during the month of January.

Carla Tollett, marketing director for the facility, said since Jan. 12, the hospital performed 423 tests for the flu on patients with flu-like symptoms. Of those, 72 patients tested positive for Flu A, she said.

Earlier this month, only 18 patients had tested positive for flu.

Dr. Mitchell Wolf from St. Anthony Shawnee Physicians, said the “classic flu, or real influenza,” includes symptoms of high fever, muscle aches, cough and headache.

“And a feeling of being run down or run over,” Wolf said, adding people with flu will know they have it because it comes on so suddenly.

With classic cases of flu, patients who see a doctor in the first 24 hours of becoming sick are good candidates for anti-viral medications, he said. And while those medications don’t cure the flu, they will help “shorten the duration of symptoms,” he said, although fluids and rest are the best medicine for influenza.

And while influenza can be a nasty ailment to have, washing hands is probably the most effective way to help prevent the spread of the virus, he said, which is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, such as shaking hands. The virus is also spread through the air in the form of droplets from coughs or sneezes.

“It’s very contagious,” Wolf said. “The best thing is to prevent it before it happens,” the doctor said, adding they recommend flu vaccines for people of all ages 6 months and older.

People infected with flu may be able to infect others one day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.

“If someone has the flu they should avoid contact with others as much as possible,” said Ken Garcia, regional spokesperson of the American Red Cross. “Everyone should also disinfect surfaces used commonly such as door knobs, switches, phones, computers and remote controls.”

And with Super Bowl XLVIII coming up this weekend, many will be gathering to enjoy the game, Garcia said, so the American Red Cross also is offering the following tips with a football-related message:

• If you are sick or someone in your household is ill, bench yourself and stay home. And if you’re planning to host a party and get sick with the flu, cancel the party.

• Avoid a penalty flag for unnecessary germ spreading by covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or cough and sneeze into your upper sleeve. Don’t use your hands. Throw the tissues away and clean your hands after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes.

• Call frequent time outs for hand washing. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.

• Before the guests huddle up at the party, hosts should make sure there is plenty of soap and disposable hand towels or paper towels in the bathroom.

• Pro players don’t share water bottles, so don’t let anyone else drink out of your glass, cup, can or bottle. Write names on the cups or mark them in some way to keep them separate and defend against mix-ups.

• Avoid a party foul. If the host has a super bowl of chips or nuts, use a spoon or tongs instead of plunging your hand into the bowl. Your teammates will award you extra points.

• If your team scores a touchdown or makes a big play, avoid the kisses or high fives with friends. Try an elbow bump or your own individual touchdown dance.

Garcia added that people who have the flu can significantly help stop spread of the illness by simply staying home and not infecting others.

For more information about the flu:

www.familydoctor.org

https://www.ok.gov/health/

http://www.cdc.gov/

www.redcross.org