Worst week yet for flu in Oklahoma

Thursday, February 9th 2006, 10:24 am
By: News On 6

If you've noticed a lot of people out sick from work or school, you aren't alone.

News on 6 anchor Scott Thompson says the flu season came late, but there's no questioning it's here. There were more than 200 documented cases of flu in Oklahoma last week and doctors tell us 100 were in Tulsa County.

They also say for every case documented, up to a dozen others go unreported. No matter how you get it. Dakota Whitlock: "I catch germs from my dog. And then they get gone when I play with my sister.” Or who gives it to you. "Then they go back on my dog. Then she puts them back on me."

More and more people are getting the flu. Tulsa Doctor John Jennings has seen an influx of patients complaining of coughing, sneezing, and fever, some contributing to the hundreds of Oklahomans with documented cases of the flu. "It could be a lot more than that. There's no way of knowing."

To be a documented case, you have go to the doctor; he'll do an expensive test, and see if you have influenza. Many doctors skip the test, and many patients skip the doctor. "If someone is healthy and has no underlying illnesses, then it may be just as easy to let the flu run its course and get better."

Oklahomans didn't see the flu shot shortage they did last year. Doctor Jennings says more people getting the vaccine has helped keep influenza in check. But another "flu" is on the rise the flu shot won't prevent. Most people - and even some doctors - call it stomach flu, but it's not really influenza at all. It's a gastro-intestinal virus, which causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea - along with flu symptoms.

In cases of stomach flu, no doctor's prescription is better than tried-and-true remedies. “What grandma told you to do is right, pretty much, with clear liquids and rest."

With rest, the stomach flu will only last a day or two, but Doctor Jennings says if you don't give yourself downtime, you could feel sick for a weekend whether it's stomach flu or the "real" flu, taking time off will help keep others from getting sick.