NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Local doctors are seeing something unusual this year. They're still treating patients with the flu.
"It's pretty rare this time of year, but right now, we're still seeing it, still coming strong," said Dr. Clare Farrell with MHM Urgent Care. "Usually around April is when the flu likes to stop, but this year, May 13, saw one case today so definitely one to two cases per shift."
Doctors at MHM Urgent Care clinics in our area are seeing one to two cases of flu a day at each of their clinics. That's as many as 24 patients being diagnosed with the flu each day.
Farrell said usually flu season starts in November or December and winds down by April.
"This year it definitely started a little bit later than it usually does. I wasn't seeing a lot of cases until January whereas usually November, December they start to come in pretty rapidly. But this year was definitely a later start to the flu season, so I think that's probably why it's lasting a little bit longer," said Farrell.
And even if you got the flu vaccine, you can still get sick. But doctors say symptoms in those who get the flu shot are usually less severe.
"This year we feel like the vaccine was a little bit more effective than it was last year, but we're definitely still seeing people that had the vaccine that still get the flu," said Farrell.
Farrell hopes the season will end this month. In the meantime, she recommends washing your hands frequently and avoiding close contact with anyone you know who has signs of the flu.
Symptoms of the flu include fever, body aches and chills. You can also have respiratory problems or nausea and vomiting. Farrell says if you have any of those, you need to get checked out and tested as soon as possible because your doctor can prescribe medicine that will shorten the course of the flu and help improve your symptoms. But that medication has to be given within 48 hours of the patient feeling sick.