H1N1 flu cases begin to add up across Texoma - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

H1N1 flu cases begin to add up across Texoma

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TEXOMA – The peak of flu season isn't even here yet and the number of confirmed cases in Texoma is already adding up.

At the Bryan County Health Department, there are still plenty of flu shots in stock.

"Studies show it's between 70 and 90% effective, but it's the best defense that we have," Pat Fowler said.

Fowler is the head of the health departments in four counties in southeast Oklahoma.

So far, he says five people in Bryan County, two people in Choctaw County and one person in McCurtain County have been hospitalized because of the H1N1 strain of the flu. Check your individual county for flu cases here.

"We're just getting into the part of the flu season where the cases really start to increase and that's what's concerning us," Fowler said. "I think we're only at the tip of the iceberg."

H1N1 -- or the swine flu -- is the same strain that caused a pandemic in 2009.

The Centers for Disease Control says it infected 52 million people and may have killed hundreds of thousands.

Fowler says he caught it, too.

"I had severe cough, high chills, fever, body aches, typical flu-like symptoms that will really put you down for, in some cases, several weeks," he said.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health posts statistics on the state's website weekly.

Between January 1 and January 7, it says there were 91 new flu-related hospitalizations and deaths statewide.

It says there have been 242 hospitalizations and deaths since October 1, and, 5 deaths since flu season began.

In Texas, H1N1 is being linked to dozens of deaths statewide.

None of them are in Grayson County.

But, Amanda Ortez with the health department says almost all of the 108 flu cases reported in Grayson County are Type A, and likely the H1N1 virus.

She says if you haven't received a flu shot yet, you still can.

"We're seeing widespread flu activity in Texas so it's imperative that individuals get their flu vaccine," Ortez said. "If they have children make sure they're vaccinated as well."

Ortez says the health department relies on local clinics to report flu cases.

But, she says, because only one hospital, one doctors' office and a few schools have responded to a request to report, the amount of flu cases is likely much higher than the numbers reflect.