The Flu Bug Strikes Tulsa and Surrounding Communities

Tuesday, January 4th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Doctors say the flu bug hit Tulsa about three weeks ago during the holidays. Since then the number of cases has escalated among children and adults. St. John Medical Center is caring for an unusually high number of cases right now. "This year the number of people treated for the flu in our emergency department has been very high,” said St. John vice president Butch Peterson. “It’s not normal. For example, last Saturday we registered over 185 people in the emergency department, which was an all time high for us."

Doctors say the bug is spreading like wildfire. "The flu is so easily contagious and is spread quickly, especially with the holidays,” said Dr. Jeff Howard, a family physician. “I think a lot of that human contact contributes to the flu spreading so quickly.”
Often the symptoms are unbearable. "The flu will typically present muscle aches and fatigue,” said Dr. Howard. “Symptoms include no energy, fever and chills, aside from that, sneezing and runny nose, and sometimes an unproductive and dry cough.”

Since November, the state health department has only confirmed one true case of the flu. But they say patients with flu and other respiratory symptoms are sick. That has one Oklahoma City company calling for its highest level of flu alert for Oklahoma and other states. Zymtech in Oklahoma City has issued the alert for Oklahoma and 10 other states including Montana and Michigan, where health officials have reported a high number of flu cases.

Physicians warn just because you got a flu shot this season doesn't mean you're completely safe from the bug. “Sometimes there are strains of the flu which are not included in the current vaccination that you may be exposed to and get," Dr. Howard said.

Doctors say to reduce the risk of contracting the flu, try to keep up with your normal exercise routine and eat healthy to boost your immune system. If you do develop flu-like symptoms, go to your doctor right away. Doctors say that too many patients are going to the emergency room for treatment when they should stay at home. They encourage patients to call their primary care physician first for advice. They also say in many cases, you will simply have to ride the flu out at home with lots of fluids, rest and in some cases, prescribed medications.