OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoma State Department of Health on Thursday reported an eighth death due to the flu during this year's flu season.
The department said the latest death was a Wagoner County resident in the 19- to 64-year-old age group. The department also reported 16 additional hospitalizations due to the flu.
The department says about 280 people have been hospitalized because of the flu since Jan. 1. The number is down from about 840 hospitalizations and about two dozen deaths during the same time frame in 2011.
Health officials say the decline is likely caused by a milder winter, more people getting flu shots and that many people in previous years likely contracted one of the three flu strains circulating in the state this season and are now immune.
The department confirmed hospitalizations due to the flu in 52 of Oklahoma's 77 counties. The most cases are in the state's two most populous counties: Oklahoma County, 76; and Tulsa County, 69. The third and fourth most populous counties, Cleveland, with 19, and Comanche, with 11, were the only other counties with at least 10 flu-related hospitalizations.
Three of the eight deaths were reported in Oklahoma County with one each reported in Comanche, McClain, Osage, Sequoyah and Wagoner counties.