State health department: 12 Oklahoma residents dead from flu this season, including child under 18

TULSA - Seven Oklahoma residents, including a child, have died in the past week from the flu, according to the Tulsa Health Department.

The season's death toll has risen to 12, up from five last week , since Oct. 1, 2013.

Health department officials say this is the first flu-related death reported in a child younger than 18 in Oklahoma this season.

"This death is a somber reminder of the danger flu poses to children," said Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart.  "The loss of a child is always tragic and we extend our sympathies to the family."

Health department officials tell 2NEWS the child who died was younger than 4 years old.

Deaths have occurred in Tulsa (3), Comanche (2), Cleveland (1), Kay (1), LeFlore (1), McClain (1), Okmulgee (1), Osage (1) and Pittsburg (1) counties.

As of Jan. 14, a total of 399 Oklahomans have been hospitalized with the flu since Sept. 29 of last year, according to the state health department.

State health officials encourage anyone 6 months or older to receive the flu vaccine, especially those at risk from complications, including people 50 years of age or older, young children, pregnant women and persons with chronic health conditions.

Symptoms of influenza include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

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