BATON ROUGE, La. (KPEL News) - The Bayou State is being hit hard by the flu right now, ranking among the worst in the country as far as infections go.

The CDC's own tracking map shows that Louisiana has a critically high level of flu activity, and the Louisiana Department of Health says that the percentage of possible flu tests is continuing to tick upwards.

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According to the CDC's map, flu activity is heavy in the south, with Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina showing extreme rates of activity.

Texas, Florida, and Arkansas are just below those states in terms of flu rates.

Credit: CDC
Credit: CDC

What's more, the CDC says, 16.1 percent of people who got tested for flu came back positive.

The key points from the CDC are as follows:

• Seasonal influenza activity is elevated and continues to increase in most parts of the country.

• Outpatient respiratory illness is above baselinenationally for the eighth consecutive week and is above baseline in all 10 HHS Regions.

• The number of weekly flu hospital admissions continues to increase.

• During Week 51, of the 875 viruses reported by public health laboratories, 748 (85.5%) were influenza A and 127 (14.5%) were influenza B. Of the 391 influenza A viruses subtyped during Week 51, 309 (79.0%) were influenza A(H1N1) and 82 (21.0%) were A(H3N2).

• Six influenza-associated pediatric deaths occurring during the 2023-2024 influenza season were reported during Week 51, bringing the 2023-2024 season total to 20 pediatric deaths.

• CDC estimates that there have been at least 7.1 million illnesses, 73,000 hospitalizations, and 4,500 deaths from flu so far this season.

• CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccine as long as influenza viruses are spreading.2  Vaccination now can still provide benefit this season.

• There also are prescription flu antiviral drugs that can treat flu illness; those should be started as early as possible and are especially important for higher risk patients.

• Flu viruses are among several viruses contributing to respiratory disease activity. CDC is providing updated, integrated information about COVID-19, flu, and RSV activity on a weekly basis.

The Dangers of Flu

One child has died in Louisiana as a result of the flu, and the increasing rate of infection is causing concern among health officials.

Like all respiratory illnesses, the flu has the potential to be dangerous, and with the rise of RSV and COVID-19 complicating matters, there are several dangers from respiratory illness if people aren't careful.

Flu Prevention

Avoiding the flu involves adopting preventive measures to reduce the risk of exposure and transmission. Here are key strategies to help you steer clear of the flu if you're worried about catching it:

  1. Get Vaccinated: The most effective way to prevent the flu is to get an annual flu vaccine. This vaccine helps your immune system recognize and fight specific flu viruses.
  2. Practice Good Hand Hygiene:
    • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after coughing or sneezing.
    • Use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are unavailable.
  3. Avoid Touching Your Face: Refrain from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, as germs can enter your body through these areas.
  4. Practice Respiratory Hygiene:
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze.
    • Dispose of used tissues properly and wash your hands immediately.
  5. Maintain Distance: Stay away from individuals who are sick, and if you are feeling unwell, avoid close contact with others to prevent spreading the virus.
  6. Clean and Disinfect: Regularly clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, and electronic devices.
  7. Boost Your Immune System: Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Ensure you get enough sleep, stay hydrated, and engage in regular physical activity to support your immune system.
  8. Stay Informed: Keep yourself informed about flu activity in your community. If an outbreak is reported, take additional precautions and follow public health guidelines.
  9. Wear a Mask: In situations where flu or respiratory illnesses are prevalent, wearing a mask can help reduce the spread of respiratory droplets.
  10. Avoid Crowded Places: During flu season or an outbreak, consider avoiding crowded places to minimize the risk of exposure.
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By incorporating these habits into your daily routine, you can significantly reduce your chances of contracting and spreading the flu. Combining vaccination with good hygiene practices and a healthy lifestyle forms a comprehensive approach to flu prevention.

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