Flu cases spike, hospitalizations double in Oklahoma

Flu season is back with a vengeance.

And almost everyone knows how it feels.
"It was miserable," said OU junior Elana Slater, "I was on the couch for like a week. Didn't do anything, didn't go out, wasn't allowed to go to school."
In the last few weeks, odds are if you haven't had it you know someone who has. The health department has a term for this:
"Intense activity across the state," said Epidemiologist Kendra Dougherty.
Oklahoma is one of 25 states where the flu is considered widespread. The latest numbers show hospitalization cases were generally low until a major spike over the last two weeks.
That is normal for this time of year.
"After the holidays with all the get togethers and stuff we do see a fairly dramatic increase," Dougherty said.
She tracks the cases for the Oklahoma Dept. of Health and expects flu cases to get worse over the next several weeks. She says the weather is partially to blame.
"The lack of humidity can keep influenza in the air a little longer," Dougherty said.
So how do you know if it's the flu or just a cold?
"A cold you're typically no gonna have the type of fever with it and your cough and your soar throat will not be as severe. You're not gonna have the type of severe body aches and headaches you're gonna have with the flu," she explained.
As the numbers continue to rise, doctors say it's never too late to get your flu shot. It will protect you from the major strains this year, including H1N1 which is the most prevalent strain and also caused the pandemic in 2009.
That's why Slater is smiling on her way to get vaccinated, knowing she'll at least have some protection.
"Before I go back to school, before I go back to OU, I will be safe and sound. Won't have to worry about getting the flu," she said.