NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Local doctors are seeing an uptick in flu cases this holiday season.
"Just this morning we've seen approximately 10 patients, and almost half of them have had the flu. Everyone of them did not get the flu vaccine, so the flu vaccine has been very effective so far this year," said Dr. Granville Morse with MHM Lakeview Urgent Care. "We actually have 12 clinics, and all of them are reporting upticks in flu cases right now."
And, Morse expects to see even more cases.
"So, you have the close encounters with all of your relatives that have come in town either from around town or out of town, spending time with them, and there's always the mall effect or the airport effect where people are traveling or you're out at the mall and you're interacting with people there. So at this point, we would expect to see an uptick," Morse said.
At a University Medical Center Clinic in New Orleans, you'll also find patients who have recently come down with respiratory illnesses.
"This is the time of year where we see lots of respiratory viruses, so it's the whole gamut, from cold viruses all the way up to Influenza," said LSU Health Pulmonary Critical Care Medicine Dr. Bennett deBoisblanc.
Doctors say one of the best ways you can avoid getting sick is frequent hand washing, especially before and after you shake hands with someone. Also, if you are coughing or sneezing, do it into your elbow, and if you're sharing a desk, clean it as you leave and before you start your shift.
"The important thing to remember is that flu starts to be able to be transmitted a whole 24 hours prior to the onset of symptoms, so I could have the flu right now, touch my nose, shake your hand and give you the flu even though I have no symptoms whatsoever," said deBoisblanc.
You can also still get the flu shot if you haven't done so yet. If you're thinking of missing it this year; consider this: "The vaccine is effective against this year's flu. It reduces the probability of death from flu by over 90 percent. It's not 100 percent effective against clinical symptoms, but when you do get the flu, if you've been vaccinated, it tends to be milder flu," deBoisblanc said.
Morse said the flu is hitting our area earlier this year than last. Last year, it picked up after Mardi Gras. This year would be considered a more traditional flu season, as it's typically seen in December and January.