Flu activity low in Louisiana during the ongoing pandemic

Flu activity low in Louisiana during the ongoing pandemic

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Doctors in Louisiana aren’t seeing a lot of flu cases. They believe safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are the reason why.

The state health department says right now in Louisiana just over 1 percent of ER visits are because of the flu. This time last year that number was around 9 percent.

In New Orleans, cases are also down.

“Right now our flu activity statewide is very, very low. This time last year, you know, it really wasn’t. We actually had a very early season and a pretty significant one,” said New Orleans Health Department Director, Jennifer Avegno, M.D.

Avegno points out while experts still don’t know exactly how contagious COVID-19 is, they do know there’s a lot more asymptomatic infections with coronavirus than there is with the flu. An estimated 40 percent of people infected with COVID don’t have symptoms.

“When you have the flu you generally feel pretty bad and so you are going to stay home and you’re not going to be around a lot of people. So, COVID really is in many ways a silent killer because there are some among us who might be fine but there are people that they are going to give it to who are decidedly not going to be fine,” said Avegno.

Doctors stress now is not the time to let your guard down for COVID-19 or the flu, and even though flu numbers are down, they say it’s still important that you get your flu shot.

“While we are worried about the numbers of COVID going up, if we also start to see numbers of flu cases going up that could be a real problem for the health care system and that’s why I think it’s important we continue to push these messages out and let everyone know the things you are doing to help with COVID and all these public health measures will also help with flu,” said Jeffrey Elder, M.D. with LCMC Health Emergency Medicine.

“Again, more reason to wash your hands, keep your distance and wear a mask, not only is it going to prevent the spread of COVID but it’s going to prevent you and your loved ones from getting the flu which can also lead to hospitalizations and deaths,” Avegno said.

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