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Flu spreading in state, locally

Published: Jan. 12, 2014 at 11:04 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2014 at 4:21 AM CST
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New Orleans, La. - Sunday felt more like spring but flu season, which strikes every winter, is just now nearing its peak.

The Centers for Disease Control say seasonal flu is widespread across the state and Jenny Kuo, D.O., a family physician, is seeing more of it in her New Orleans office.

"In the last few weeks, we've had a lot more patients with flu-like symptoms as well as complications from the flu, including pneumonia," she says.

Dr. Kuo says one of the most common strains she's seeing this season is the H1N1 virus, better known as swine flu.

That strain is blamed for the death of an eight-year-old from northwest Louisiana.

The Department of Health and Hospitals says the child died in a Shreveport hospital Wednesday, the state's first pediatric death this flu season.

Kuo says it's not too late to get a vaccination against the viruses.

"This year's vaccine has H1N1, H3N2 and also two of the influenza B vaccines depending on which vaccine you get," she says.

Anyone older than six months can get a flu shot but the CDC says it's especially important for some people get to vaccinated.

Young children, pregnant women and people with pre-existing medical conditions have a higher risk of developing complications from the flu.

Doctors say the shot can not only protect you, it can also protect those around you. If you get the flu you can be contagious well before you show symptoms.

Paul Teall got a flu shot for his children.

"I was most nervous because I've got two kids and I wanted to make sure they weren't exposed to it through me," he says.

The shot is not a guarantee against getting sick, as Elonide Semmes learned just this week.

She got vaccinated but came down with the flu anyway.

"It could have been worse because I understand it can last a couple weeks if you're not vaccinated so I'll still do it next year," she says.

Doctors expect to see more cases in the next few weeks.

That's why they say it's important to get the flu shot as soon as possible.