Flu cases are on the rise throughout Louisiana, according to data provided by the Louisiana Department of Health, and medical professionals from across the country are expecting a flu season much worse than last year's.

According to LDH data, the number of positive cases so far this month is outpacing where flu season has started in recent years. The last serious start to a flu season was in the 2019-2020 season, and this year's season is starting out with about 5 percent more positive cases than that year.

Credit: Louisiana Department of Health
Credit: Louisiana Department of Health

This puts Louisiana on pace to have a moderate flu season, if not worse. Dr. Tina Stefanski, Region 4 Medical Director in Louisiana, says Louisiana should prepare.

After studying Australia’s flu season, Region 4 Medical Director Dr. Tina Stefanski says doctors are expecting an even busier flu season and we should all be prepared. Although the flu has been less busy due to the extra precaution taken during the pandemic, the same measures should still be taken.

“Wearing face masks, being a little bit more careful when out and about, washing your hands, keeping your hands away from your face, those are all still really good preventative measures,” Dr. Stefanski says.

That prediction appears to be in line with what national medical experts are saying.

Nationally, flu positivity in the clinical labs last week was 3.3%, but it was over 10% in the Southeast. And in the South Central region, it was 5%. Flu hospitalizations are going up. And they’re going up in the same places where flu positivity is going up and ILIs [influenza-like illnesses] are going up.

All the pieces are sort of falling into place, and you’re getting sort of a consistent picture in the Southeast and maybe in South Central, and it’s probably spreading out.

What Can You Do To Prepare?

Medical experts all point to the primary preventative measure you can take in any flu season: Get the flu shot.

The CDC continues to recommend that "everyone ages 6 months and older get a flu vaccine, ideally by the end of October," according to its website. "There are also prescription flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat flu illness; those need to be started as early as possible."

It's also recommended that you pay attention to your symptoms, particularly if you're feeling any of the following:

  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Muscle aches
  • Dry coughs
  • Fatigue

Those symptoms are typically indicative of the flu, and it's recommended that you get a flu test should you experience any of them.

LDH also recommends the following preventative measures.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home and limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with viruses that cause flu.
  • Continue the social distancing and masking practices that you adopted to protect against COVID-19.

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