NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Since the start of the flu season in October, more people are getting sick in Louisiana, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Louisiana is one of nine states (Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina and New York) with high flu activity.
“We’re getting about a half a percent each week, but we do expect that to increase,” said Dr. Frank Welch, medical director for immunization programs at Louisiana Health Department.
The CDC said 4.5 percent of people who went to the hospital the week of Dec. 22 either had the flu or flu-like illnesses, and it was higher than the week before. The increase is concerning to Dr. Welch but not entirely surprising for the time of the year. It’s after the holidays, a time when everyone is traveling and sharing close quarters.
Welch said most doctors have busy waiting rooms this time of the year, and the flu isn’t the only thing they’re treating.
Dr. Fred Lopez with LSU Health Infectious Disease said there’s an uptick in strep throat cases as RSV and the flu keep going around.
“These viruses can be seen in kids, adolescents and adults,” said Lopez. "In fact, the people who are at risk for most serious infections from these viruses, again, whether it’s the flu or RSV, typically is going to be the very young or the very old or those who have immune compromising medical conditions.”
The silver lining this flu season is that the strain found this year is the same from last year.
“The good news about that is the vaccine is really well-matched. Meaning if you get that vaccine it’s likely to protect you this year,” said Welch.
He said while flu cases have started increasing, he doesn’t think the numbers will be as bad as last year.
“Last year, we hit 12 percent, which I have never seen in my 22 years,” said Welch. “Typical year we’ll get up to about seven, seven and a half percent which is at the peak of flu season.”