By Craig Day, The News On 6
HULBERT, OKLAHOMA -- A teenager in Hulbert is one of the first cases of H1N1 in Oklahoma this flu season. The teen and her family are warning others to watch out for the symptoms and to not take the virus lightly.
Misti Burton, 19, has the H1N1 virus and says it's not getting much better.
"Like I'm dying basically," she said. "I feel like an 80-year-old woman walking around. I can't do much. I've lost 21 pounds in three weeks."
To make matters worse, her 9-year-old sister Lakota and her dad, who has a job related terminal lung disease, may have H1N1, too.
"Being a parent, you worry about your kids first," said Ron Burton, Misti's dad.
The Burton's want other Oklahomans to know the virus is hitting early and hitting hard.
"I wouldn't want anyone else to have this," Misti said.
"It's not close to having the regular flu. It's 100 times worse," her dad said.
Since September 2009, more than 1,200 people had to be hospitalized statewide with the flu. Most of those cases were H1N1.
It prompted thousands of people to line up at schools and health clinics to get immunized. This year, the H1N1 vaccine will be combined with the regular flu shot. Health leaders hope the virus doesn't take as much of a toll as last year.
But for the Burton's it already has.
"It's not an ache pain, it's an actual pain," Misti said. "It hurt so bad, and I couldn't stand it."
They hope to spread the word about the illness, faster than the virus can spread.
"Take it serious. Because it is a serious disease and it's very painful," Ron Burton said.
Except for Misti's mom, they're all not feeling well and are cooped up inside. They hope it doesn't get worse, but fear it will.
The State Health Department will begin weekly tracking of the flu, including H1N1, in October. The first flu clinics at public health departments will begin in October, although the vaccine may already be available through some private providers.