Dec 4, 2012 5:52 PM by Erin Steuber

Flu Season Off to Early Start, Could be Bad One in Louisiana

Flu season is off to it's earliest start in nearly a decade. Doctors say it may be a bad one in Louisiana.

The CDC says Louisiana is one of five states seeing a spike in flu cases, that also includes Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. According to the Louisiana Department of Health, Acadiana is one of the most at risk regions this season.

The last time the flu season started early was in 2003. It proved to be one of the most deadly seasons in the past 35 years with more than 48,000 deaths. The dominant type of flu then, is the same one spreading this year. But today's vaccines are better matched to fight this type of flu.

Doctor John Stafford, of Stafford Walk-In Clinic, says an early start means more people are at risk for getting sick. This particular strain making people sicker, including nausea, vomiting and puts the elderly more at risk.

"We're expecting a little bit stronger, or worse, flu season this year," said Dr. Stafford. "We'll probably expect to see a few more people that'll die from this and this is the reason for the vaccination. If it's a little more effective this year, get it."

But the good new is more people have been vaccinated this year compared to almost 10 years ago.

"Well definitely I've gotten it," said Charles Hallyard. "The reason I got it is because I don't want the flu, who does."

The number one way to prevent the flu, get vaccinated. And Dr. Stafford says it's important to know how it's spread, and wash your hands regularly.

"It's spread usually through water droplets from either sneezing, coughing, or sometimes, even talking to people," said Dr. Stafford. "The droplets get on the other person and get into their system and they'll develop the illness."

Knowing that flu season may be sticking around longer than usual, not everyone wants the shot.

"Um somewhat, but I'm just a little bit skeptical," said Travis Hargrave.

"I need one, I know that," said Daniel Riggs. "I don't want to catch the flu, I know that much, so ya I guess, ya I'll go get one."

If you are showing symptoms, there are treatments that are most effective within the first two days. If you've had symptoms less than 48 hours, and test positive, medicine can be prescribed to reduce your flu symptoms. If you've been sick for more than 48 hours, treatments usually are not effective. It's not too late in the season to get a flu shot. The CDC says as long as the virus is spreading, the vaccine will be available.



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