The Pryor Times

December 14, 2012

Flu season begins early

PRYOR — The flu season is here and it’s the earliest start since 2003. With flu patients already turning up at local hospitals, it’s especially important to take steps now to protect yourself and your loved ones.

OU Physicians stress that there is no need to panic, but they caution that influenza – the true flu – is an illness not to be taken lightly.

“Vaccination is still our best weapon against preventing the flu,” said Dr. Robert Welliver, an infectious disease specialist with OU Physicians. “Fortunately, this year’s vaccine protects against the strain of flu being seen most often thus far. So if you haven’t been vaccinated, I would suggest there is never a better time to get a flu shot.”

OU Medical Center has seen 13 cases of the flu since September. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that flu-like illness is widespread in five states already – Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.

According to the CDC, 5 percent to 20 percent of all Americans become ill with the flu each year. An estimated 200,000 are hospitalized for flu-related complications and 3,000 to 49,000 die.