New Orleans doctors still seeing high volume of flu cases - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

New Orleans doctors still seeing high volume of flu cases

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New Orleans, La - In New Orleans, local doctors say the flu is very much a concern, as we're in the peak of the season.

It's been a busy couple of months for the staff at Lakeview Urgent Care. "Everybody comes in and they're worried about whether or not they have the flu, whether or not they have a cold. Some are concerned they have pneumonia," said Dr. Granville Morse.

This year's flu season began a lot earlier than previous years. It kicked off in December and according to doctors, was severe. "It spread rapidly, and it was very common to have multiple family members in here with same complaints and all testing positive for the flu," Morse said.

Many people got flu shots, but getting the vaccine doesn't always mean you won't get sick. That's because the vaccine only covers three strains of influenza. Morse explains, "This year's vaccine for instance, they tried to target flu A, genotype h1n1, flu A genotype h1n2 and then flu B."

There are a multitude of strains...so many that the vaccine can't cover them all.

Dr. Brobson Lutz says he frequently sees sick patients who've already gotten the vaccine. "This past week I had six patients, three of whom who had influenza immunization come in with classic flu symptoms," Lutz said.

Many patients currently being treated for the flu are elderly. This week, the Centers for Disease Control released a report saying the flu vaccine was only nine percent effective in people 65 and older. Of course, influenza is most dangerous to young children and the elderly.

Morse says, "You have increased hospitalizations for the elderly group, the 65 and older that have more complications."

But just because the vaccine isn't 100 percent effective in warding off the flu, Lutz still strongly recommends everyone get a flu shot. And even though we're now in the peak of the season, it's not too late to get vaccinated. He explains, "If it's still available, if you can find a drug store or a physician who still has some, it's never too late because you don't only protect yourself this year, but you put some coins in your immunological bank that are going to help you down the line."

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