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Flu virus kills 58 Oklahomans this season

Flu season continues to sweep across the plains. The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced 58 flu-related deaths statewide since September; 12 of these deaths occurred in Tulsa County.

More than 1,400 Oklahomans have landed in the hospital due to the illness. The majority of these deaths occurred in children ages 1-5 and the elderly, who are more susceptible to catching the flu.

“We are seeing a different flu season compared to the last. We have also had different timing on when flu activity has occurred. We started the flu season three to four weeks earlier than last year,” said Kendra Dougherty, an epidemiologist at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The flu virus changes from year to year. These mutations force medical professionals to make an educated hypothesis when predicting the strains covered in the flu vaccine for the year.

“I was living a healthy lifestyle, eating lots of fruits and vegetables. I exercised a lot. I pretty much did everything you can,” Freshman Will Robinson said. “I got the flu shot. It was just a different strain than the flu shot prevented.”

Robinson woke up with aches and a fever last Wednesday. Student Health tested him for the flu and returned with a positive result. Robinson packed his bags and moved into the ninth floor of Michael within a day for quarantine.

“You didn’t see anyone for a good five days straight. Just complete isolation,” Robinson said.

Resident advisers arrived daily at his room to bring meals, and Student Health monitored his symptoms.

“Our number one suggestion to prevent getting the flu is to get the flu vaccine. It can still help prevent you from getting the flu. We also recommend you wash your hands, and cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze,” said Luisa Krug, an epidemiologist at the Tulsa Health Department.

The ORU Student Health Center is located on EMR’s first floor. It is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and is closed for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to noon. No need for an appointment; walk-ins are welcome.

“At this point we have only had a few cases. If symptoms do begin, please contact Student Health,” said Lisa Bowman, director for auxiliary services. “We want to do our best to keep ORU safe and healthy during the flu season.”

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