The flu has arrived in the ArkLaTex, according to LSU Health Shreveport.
They say that with the onset of colder weather, the expected arrival of the influenza virus (flu) has been confirmed by the Diagnostic Virology Laboratory of LSU Health Shreveport.
An influenza infection was first confirmed on a specimen from a local high school student. Additional influenza cases have occurred sporadically in the area over the past two weeks.
Local confirmation of the Influenza virus underscores the need for high-risk individuals who have not yet received influenza vaccine to do so as soon as possible, said John Vanchiere, MD PhD, Chief of the Section of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at LSU Health Shreveport. As in other parts of the country, the influenza virus detected locally is a type A, H3N2 strain.
Once in the community, influenza outbreaks typically last four to eight weeks or longer, he noted. Vaccination, good hand-washing and good cough hygiene (e.g., coughing into your elbow or onto a tissue) are important to protect oneself from influenza infection and to reduce the spread to others. Influenza vaccine is plentiful this year and recommended for all adults, children and infants older than 6 months of age. The influenza vaccine is available in both a nasal spray and an injectable form.
"It is important for physicians to know that type A Influenza has been confirmed locally because it alerts them that their patients with fever and other flu-like symptoms may actually have Influenza virus infection. The doctor can then decide if the patient should receive one of the antiviral drugs effective against Influenza," he added.
Individuals who are at the highest risk for severe influenza or complications from it, Dr. Vanchiere said, are infants less than two years of age, adults older than 65 years of age, and adults and children with asthma and other chronic medical problems, including diabetes. In recent years, pregnant women have been particularly vulnerable to influenza virus infection.
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. Children and adolescents with influenza should not be given aspirin because it is associated with an increased risk of developing Reye's Syndrome, an inflammatory disease of the liver, Dr. Vanchiere said.
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