SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Flu activity is surging right now across the country, especially here at home. According to the CDC Louisiana is one of 11 states experiencing widespread flu cases.
With people returning to work and school, from the holiday vacation, flu activity is expected to get even worse in the days and weeks to come.
Leaving many wonder if this year will prove to be as deadly as the last flu season.
According to the experts the answer to the flu question comes down to two competing factors, what some call the good news and the bad news.
“Good news is that the vaccine has the exact viruses that are going around right now. And you know how sometimes it’s off,” explained Dr. Martha Whyte.
Dr. Whyte is the Regional Health Director of the Louisiana Department of Health. She tells KSLA those who get a shot are better protected this flu season against the strains known as H1N1 and H3N2.
“The bad news is those two viruses are the ones that were so aggressive last year,” cautioned Whyte.
According to the CDC, influenza and its complications killed an estimated 80-thousand Americans during the 2017-18 flu season. Well over double the national average of 36-thousand deaths.
As for closer to home, Dr. Whyte added, “The last flu season we had 16-hundred people in Louisiana die.”
Experts also tell us this is a great time to be talking about the flu and getting a flu shot since people are coming back to school and back to work after the holiday vacation, bringing the germs with them. Places like the health clinic in Caddo Parish will see a surge in cases right now.
That’s why Margie Dobbs, a lead registered nurse at the Caddo Parish Health Unit, urges parents to keep their children home if they’re running a fever and feeling sick.
“Because it is so contagious. And that’s how it all, we have like an epidemic is everybody gets infected,” says Dobbs.
Dobbs and others said its the same with adults at work. If you’re sick you are urged to stay home instead of coming in and making your co-workers sick.
Dobbs and Dr. Whyte both told us that since flu season doesn’t spike until February and runs through April - it’s not too late to get your flu shot.
If you’re wondering if you’re getting the flu, here are a few symptoms. They include: Fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. In children you may also see symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea.