Influenza confirmed in the Ark-La-Tex

By Erin Stevenson – bio|e-mail

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Specialists at LSU Health Sciences Center confirmed several cases of seasonal flu, Influenza virus type B, on Wednesday.

Influenza virus type B is different from the so-called "swine flu" (a type A influenza) that caused the influenza epidemic in 2009. Type B influenza disease is usually milder than that caused by type A, noted LSUHSC-S's Dr. John Vanchiere. Dr. Vanchiere, an Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine, is a pediatric infectious diseases specialist.

The children, who are unrelated, were treated at Shreveport area physicians' offices, which sent the specimens to LSUHSC-S for testing in its Diagnostic Virology Laboratory, according to Dr. Vanchiere. These are the first laboratory confirmed cases reported this season by the highly sophisticated LSUHSC-S laboratory, the only facility of its kind in this region.

With the upcoming holidays and busy travel season, all families are recommended to exercise good hand-washing practices and to remind young children about covering coughs and sneezes.

"It is important for physicians to know that type B has been confirmed locally because it alerts them that their patients with flu symptoms may have Influenza virus B," he said. There are antiviral medications used for type A that can be used to treat type B influenza with the decision whether to prescribe made by the individual's physician, based on the patient's risk factors for severe disease, he added.

Symptoms of influenza include sudden onset of fever, often with chills, headaches, tiredness, muscle aches and pains, and a dry cough. Respiratory symptoms increase as the illness progresses, and patients experience sore throat, nasal congestion and a worsening cough.

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