Louisiana sees surge of flu cases, LDH urges vaccination

Flu Season Generic CNN
Flu Season Generic CNN(CNN)
Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 12:02 PM CST
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - According to the Louisiana Department of Health, flu cases in the state are at a five-year high, and hospitalizations are on the rise.

As of Nov. 14, positive cases of the flu have increased dramatically over the past five years as reports to LDH’s Office of Public Health show that 10.49% of patient visits have been due to flu-like symptoms. LDH says this is nearly double the national average of 5.5%.

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

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

Flu season in Louisiana typically ramps up around Oct. and then peaks between the holidays and Mardi Gras.

With the holidays quickly approaching, LDH is urging residents to get their yearly flu vaccinations.

State health officer Dr. Joseph Kanter says a flu vaccine is your best protection against the virus.

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

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

Those at risk of severe complications include “the elderly, pregnant people, people with chronic illness, children younger than the age of 2, and children with health problems like asthma and diabetes,” LDH says.

The flu can also have a severe impact on other life obligations such as school attendance.

According to LDH:

  • 28% of school-aged children get the flu each year
  • For every 100 children, flu accounts for 63 missed school days a year
  • Of every 100 children who get the flu, 25 family members will come down with the flu within three days