Louisiana Department of Health is concerned about a possible second wave of flu

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The Louisiana Department of Health is very concerned about a second wave of the flu.

"This is kind of the worse case scenario and what I mean by that is we have just gone through a horrible flu season with the predominant A-type virus which as you know made incredible numbers of people sick. We had incredible numbers of hospitalizations, probably deaths and now that that's finally tapered off and has started to recede we have seen the emergence of a second strain," said Frank Welch, M.D., with the Louisiana Department of Health.

Now, the CDC reports they're starting to see more of the B-strain. And the State Health Department says that can affect children more seriously than adults.

"Instead of seeing the regular progression of flu cases consistently drop, last week the CDC saw a leveling off and had multiple pockets across the country of this influenza B virus outbreaks. Now, the good news is we have not seen that in Louisiana," said Welch.

LSU Health infectious diseases doctor, Fred Lopez M.D., says even though the number of flu cases has dropped in the state, now is not the time to let your guard down.

"B is increasing and will we see a wave? It's too early to tell. We just have this recent data showing that B seems to be increasing in proportions certainly nationally and locally as well. But in the State of Louisiana still three-quarters of the viruses that are being characterized are A viruses in the most recent surveillance data," said Lopez.

Lopez also points out, coming down with the A-strain of the flu earlier in the season doesn't give you any immunity against the B-strain.

"So, if you had a let's say an H3N2, one of the A-strain infections earlier in the year you could now get infected with one of these B-strains that seems to be increasing in proportion," said Lopez.

That's especially important to remember when you consider flu season can last through May.

"We continue to see a dropoff. What we're hoping though is we don't catch back up this week," said Welch.

It's still not too late to get a flu shot if you haven't had one yet. Doctors say it's your best defense against getting sick. We're told this season's vaccine is more effective against the B-strain of the flu than the A-strain.

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