Dr. Robert Blereau, who reports statistics of flu-like symptoms to the Centers for Disease Control year-round, said in just a day and a half of seeing patients this week, he’d already seen 13 cases of flu symptoms, most of which tested positive for the virus.
“We’re still seeing what I would call a steady flow of cases of the flu,” he said.
Since the first week of November, Blereau said cases in his office dropped off a slight bit, but he still is seeing a steady flow of them.
“I’ve been seeing them for eight weeks. The pediatricians started seeing them earlier,” he said.
While he doesn’t know how long the flu season will last, it is destined to continue for some time. The disease typically peaks in January and February, but is seen from September to May, depending on the weather.
“I think cold weather promotes the flu in some way,” Blereau said, noting that more of the same is forecast.
He noted that there still is time to get flu shots. Most cases diagnosed with the flu have not had flu shot, he added.
“Those that have had the shot seem to have a somewhat milder illness. If it doesn’t prevent the flu, it helps with duration and severity,” he said.
If you do get the flu, Blereau offers advice to keep it from spreading.
“People should remember to stay as isolated as possible when they get the flu so they don’t pass it on. Don’t go to work or school so you don’t pass it on. Stay away from the elderly, babies and family members as much as possible.”
Those who come in contact with cases of flu can get Tamiflu in an attempt to prevent infection, he said.
Louisiana has one of the highest incidences of flu so far. Southeastern states have more flu than elsewhere in the country in general, Blereau said.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website flu.gov, Louisiana is considered to be under a widespread outbreak of the flu, as are all the other Gulf Coast states with the exception of Alabama. That state still was experiencing localized infections, according to the statistics for the week ending Dec. 22, the latest available from flu.gov.
Region 3 including St. Mary Parish experienced a medium-high Influenza-Like Illness indicator of 5 to 10 percent visits over the last four weeks ending Dec. 22. The only portion of the state reporting a high ILI rate, over 10 percent, for the same time frame was Region 6, which includes the central portion of the state, according to the state Department of Health and Hospitals website.
Influenza-Like Illness is defined as an illness characterized by cough and/or cold symptoms and a fever of 100 degrees or greater in the absence of a known cause.