NEW ORLEANS - If you're sick with the flu, or some other respiratory virus, you are not alone.
The CDC is reporting high levels of flu activity throughout Louisiana, and local doctors and pharmacists on the front lines are seeing that influx of sick patients.
It's a good thing five-year-old Anthony, a patient in the emergency room, had his flu vaccine earlier in the year. Asthma puts him at higher risk for complications from the flu.
The CDC is reporting the flu is hitting Louisiana and Mississippi at the highest levels in the U.S. As a result, doctors at the Children's Hospital Pediatric Emergency Room on the West Jefferson Medical Center campus are busy.
"I would say after the Thanksgiving holidays, when all the families were getting together, we really started to see more of influenza A. We are seeing B as well, but we really have been starting to see more of an up-tick since all the families were getting together," said Dr. Elizabeth Bellino, a pediatrician at the Children's Hospital Pediatric Emergency Room on the West Jefferson Medical Center campus.
Over at an Ochsner Urgent Care Clinic in Kenner, doctors are busy there too, seeing the same up-tick in flu patients.
"The flu, the things that raise the red flag for me are body aches, and chills, and high fever," explained Dr. Cynthia Swart, an Ochsner Family Medicine physician.
If it's not the flu virus, other upper respiratory viruses are going around too.
"This morning, I woke up with a much sore throat and it went into my chest, so and I'm coughing really bad," said patient Golden Reese who went to the Ochsner Clinic.
At NOLA Discount Pharmacy on Veterans Memorial Boulevard, some days, the pharmacy is filling two to three Tamiflu prescriptions.
"We usually don't see the flu this part of the county until January, February, maybe March, but now we've already been seeing it now much earlier ," said Pharmacist Dr. Michele Vanderbrook of NOLA Discount Pharmacy.
The University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson now has hospital visitor restrictions. There can be no more than two healthy adult visitors at any one time in a patient room.
In Mississippi, we are seeing a real rise in influenza cases and hence we are doing all required precautionary measures," said Dr. Bhagyashri Navalkele, an Infectious Disease physician at UMMC.
Doctors say you should still get a flu vaccine. The injection has been updated to better match the strains going around, but the CDC is not recommending the nasal spray vaccine this year.
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