Carter County sees second flu death

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CARTER COUNTY, OK - The Oklahoma State Department of Health said the flu season is now at it's peak, and as of this week it's killed a woman between 18 and 49 and a man over 65.

"It's kinda scary if you think about it," said Carter County resident Corey Velasquez. "Just a normal sickness that comes around every year."

And hospitalizations are climbing too. 20 people have been admitted to the hospital in Carter County, 10 in Marshall County, four in Pontotoc and one in Johnston County.

Jeff McPhail--a clinical nurse specialist at the Good Shepherd Community Clinic--explained how people with the flu end up in the hospital.

"The most vulnerable people are the ones that tend to get admitted because they don't tolerate things well," McPhail said.

Risk factors for severity of the flu include being a child under four years old, or an adult over 65, having a chronic respiratory disorder and having a heart or renal condition. The health department said some of the deaths so far have involved some of these underlying conditions and that they're all too common.

"A lot of people have asthma and other respiratory conditions that they're seen regularly for so something as simple as asthma can put you at risk for severe complications of the flu," said OSDH epidemiologist Kendra Dougherty.

Medical examiners, hospitals and doctors report information about hospitalizations and deaths to the state. And even though health professionals said flu cases start tapering off by the end of February they urge everyone to get vaccinated.