Doctors report spike in local flu cases

Doctors report spike in local flu cases

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Local doctors are seeing a big increase in flu cases, and some of those patients even got the flu shot.

Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich, who is also the Jefferson Parish Coroner, said in the last 10 days, he's seen a tremendous increase in the number of patients testing positive for the flu.

"We went from seeing almost no flu cases at all of our MHM clinics to where now were consistently seeing at each clinic between five and 10 cases per day," Cvitanovich said.

And we're likely just getting started. Cvitanovich said this is a late start to flu season, especially considering that last year's started in early November.

"Historically, we've seen the flu in November, December, is where we start seeing cases of the flu," he said. "It gets busy a lot of times over the holidays and it stays busy through January, February, so it's very uncommon for us to not get it until mid-February."

Dr. Brobson Lutz, with the Orleans Parish Medical Society, is seeing the same.

"I think it has more to do with how people circulate, and no doubt there were a lot of people from all over the world that came in to celebrate Mardi Gras and they brought all their viruses with them," Lutz said.

Some patients who are sick with the flu were vaccinated, and doctors caution that the flu shot is not 100 percent effective. Still, they say you're still better off with it.

"That's not uncommon, but historically, if you have had a flu vaccination, whether it's flu mist or flu shot and still get the flu, you don't get as sick and it doesn't last as long. So basically instead of getting full immunity, you've got partial immunity from the flu vaccine," said Cvitanovich.

Doctors say the flu can be especially dangerous for the elderly, the very young, those with chronic diseases or chemotherapy patients. If you suspect you have the flu, it's important to go to the doctor as soon as possible to be treated. It's also not too late to get the flu shot, just keep in mind it could take anywhere from 10 to 12 days for the vaccine to take effect.

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