Louisiana sees slight decrease in flu illness

By By John Guidroz / American Press

Louisiana saw a slight drop in the percentage of samples that tested positive for influenza last week, but one local health

official said the virus isn’t going away anytime soon.

“We are by no means out of the woods,” Bridget Boudreaux, infection preventionist at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, said

Friday. “We’re looking at a very prominent flu season, and people should expect to see it for more weeks to come.”

About 30 percent, or 3,638, of the 12,360 samples tested for influenza from Jan. 6 through Jan. 12 were positive, according

to the state Department of Health and Hospitals Influenza Surveillance Report. This is less than the 32 percent rate found

the week before.

Region 5, which includes several

Southwest Louisiana parishes, was listed in the “medium-to-high”

category for “influenza-like

illness,” she said. That means 5 percent to 10 percent of the

population in the region has experienced flulike symptoms over

the last four weeks.

“This is not necessarily an indication of positive flu samples because not everybody has access to rapid testing,” Boudreaux

said.

Four other regions in the state have more than 10 percent of the population experiencing flulike symptoms within the last

month, the report said. Nearly every state, including Louisiana, is experiencing widespread flu activity.

Boudreaux said a majority of the positive samples were the influenza A, or H3N2-type, virus. Symptoms include a “rapid onset

of fever” and upper respiratory symptoms within the first 24 hours of getting the virus, she said.

People can still take steps to protect

themselves from the flu, including getting a flu shot, Boudreaux said.

She said those

who have flulike symptoms should avoid contact with others so the

virus does not spread. People should continue to wash their

hands regularly, get plenty of rest and eat a healthy diet.

Online: http://new.dhh.louisiana.gov.