BATON ROUGE, La. — Influenza activity in Louisiana has reached its highest point in five years, the state's health department said Wednesday.
The Louisiana Department of Health is urging residents to get up to date on flu and COVID-19 vaccinations as the holidays and peak flu season quickly approaches. Flu season in Louisiana typically begins to increase in October and peaks between the holidays and Mardi Gras.
As of November 14, the state was reporting more than 10 percent of patient visits were due to influenza-like illness, which is nearly double the national average.
Symptoms of the flu include sudden onset of body aches, fever greater than 100.3 degrees and a cough or sore throat. Washing your hands frequently and staying away from others if you are sick can prevent the spread of the virus.
"Flu hospitalizations have surged to a decade high in the United States. So far this season, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 2.8 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations and 1,300 deaths from the flu," the LDH said.
Five children in the United States have died due to the flu this year. Severe complications from the virus are most common in elderly, pregnant women, people with chronic illnesses, children younger than the age of two and children with health problems like asthma and diabetes.
Residents can find COVID-19 and flu vaccines near them by visiting vaccines.gov
“Everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu shot,” Dr. Joseph Kanter said. “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.”