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Louisiana sees flu rise, LDH pushes for vaccination

MONROE, La. (KNOE) – According to the Louisiana Department of Health and Human Services, flu cases in the state are at a five-year high and hospitalizations are increasing.

Since November 14, positive flu cases have increased dramatically over the past five years, as reports to the LDH Public Health Bureau show that 10.49% of patient visits are due to flu-like symptoms. According to the LDH, this is almost double the national average of 5.5%.

Overall in the United States, hospital admissions due to the flu have reached a 10-year high. In the 2022 season alone, the CDC estimates that there were 2.8 million flu positive cases, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 1,300 flu deaths.

Symptoms of the virus include “a sudden onset of body aches, a fever over 100.3, and a cough and/or sore throat,” says LDH.

Flu season in Louisiana typically begins around October and then peaks between the holidays and Mardi Gras.

With the holiday fast approaching, LDH is urging residents to get their annual flu shots.

The state health commissioner, Dr. Joseph Kanter says a flu vaccine is your best protection against the virus.

“Everyone from the age of 6 months should be vaccinated against the flu,” says Kanter. “The vaccine is particularly important for young children. Since 2004-2005, U.S. childhood flu deaths have ranged from 37 to 199 deaths each year, and approximately 80% of childhood flu deaths have occurred in children who did not get the flu shot.”

LDH says the flu can, though not always, have severe symptoms such as pneumonia, dehydration, worsening of long-term medical conditions like heart disease or asthma, brain dysfunction, sinus problems and ear infections.

Groups at risk for serious complications include “elderly people, pregnant women, people with chronic illnesses, children under the age of 2, and children with health conditions such as asthma and diabetes,” says LDH.

The flu can also severely affect other life commitments, such as going to school.

According to LDH:

  • 28% of school-age children get the flu each year
  • For every 100 children, 63 days of absence per year are due to the flu
  • For every 100 children who get the flu, 25 family members will get the flu within three days