THE FLU: Cases skyrocket in Louisiana
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Louisiana continues to lead the nation when it comes to the number of people being diagnosed with the Flu.
"First time I've seen this in a very long time, when the South, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, is leading the Nation in Flu, we typically see this kind of level in February and March," said Frank Welch, M.D., with the Louisiana Department of Health.
Doctors were concerned that this year's Flu shot was only about 10% effective against the A strain of the virus. But, now they're learning it does offer more protection than that.
"Only about 30% of the Flu that's going around in Louisiana is the A strain and they've done some more tests in the United States which suggest that the vaccine against that particular strain isn't great but, it's about 30% effective," said Welch.
Local physician, Eric Griggs,M.D.says he is seeing the A strain going around New Orleans. Both he and the state health department are urging you to still get the Flu shot if you haven't already because it offers protection against a number of different Flu strains. And, if you do get the vaccine and get sick, usually it's less severe.
"It's not just for you, it's for the people around you, we spend a lot of time in the Winter time together, football season, the holidays, family gatherings, you name it we are all together and we tend to share our bugs," said Griggs.
Good hygiene is also important.
"The best thing you can do outside of getting the Flu shot is to wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands, we talked about Santa this morning, one of the things Santa has to worry about is washing his beard, facial hair, viruses and bacteria like to live in hair, in places where it can be warm and they can just populate, populate, populate," said Griggs.
And, the state health department says we could see even more Flu cases at the beginning of the New Year.
"We tend to see a spike when the kids go back to school in Louisiana which would be after the holiday break, which would mean it is still perfectly timed to go get that vaccine, again 2/3 of the Flu that is going on is really well covered within the vaccine that is out there," said Welch.
Because there is so much Flu out there, the state health department is urging those who are sick to stay home and stay away from other people. Make sure you haven't had a fever in 24 hours before you start interacting with people again.
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