NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The number of people reporting flu-like illness has spiked in the metro New Orleans area with nearby double the number of cases reported last month.
State health officials are concerned because we haven't reached the peak of the flu season yet.
According to the Louisiana Health Department, the percentage of people going to the doctor for flu-like illness has jumped from 4 percent just last month to 11 percent.
“For comparison, during last year’s flu season, which was terrible, we peaked at somewhere between 12 and 13 percent of all these healthcare visits,” said Louisiana Department of Health Medical Director Joe Kanter said.
Kanter said some schools have even cancelled classes because of how widespread the virus is.
“We can see that the Greater New Orleans region - that’s Orleans Parish, Plaquemines, Jefferson Parish and St. Bernard - is leading the state right now,” Kanter said.
Lauren Bergeron said her family was sick around Thanksgiving and decided to get tested for the flu.
“We wanted to like rule that out before jumping to conclusions because we all three had the same thing,” Bergeron said.
It turned out it wasn't the flu back then, but she's taking no chances.
“I’m less concerned because we’re all vaccinated. So I don’t live in as much fear of thinking, okay, are my children going to get this flu because we’re going into an indoor area? Or is she going to pick it up at school? I think we’re really good about washing hands,” Bergeron said.
Kevin Burns said his loved one was bedridden for 10 days.
“I think it was about a month ago my wife had the flu. She was achy, and had the sniffles, and had a headache,” Burns said.
With parades rolling through peak flu season, Kanter advises those who aren’t feeling well to stay home.
"There's a lot of hand to hand contact, or touching beads or touching other people, and that's great, but knowing that the flu is still increasing, bring some hand sanitizer with you, wash your hands as frequently as you can, and if you're feeling under the weather, please don't risk spreading it to other folks," Kanter said.
"You have to be diligent. You don't wanna handle things that you don't know, they may have had the flu and pneumonia, and you want to make sure that you don't pass those on, especially to someone you love," Burns said.
With several months left, Kanter said they're keeping a close eye on the trend.
"We're concerned, and the message to us right now is we don't think we've hit peak season. we think we're still increasing," Kanter said.
According to the State Health Department, there have been more than 400 deaths in Louisiana so far.