State reports slight increase in flu cases

By By Natalie Stewart / American Press

Louisiana saw a slight increase in samples that tested positive for influenza, according to the latest report from the Centers

for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bridget Boudreaux, infection preventionist at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, said it has been a “strong season” for influenza

A, or H3N2-type.

“Flu season doesn’t usually gear up until after the holidays, but we had a very early on-set season this year,” she said.

“It typically begins right after the holidays and lasts until the end of March. Proportionately it should be winding down

right now based on when it started, but it’s still very much in full swing.”

Boudreaux said she anticipates cases will continue to be seen through late March.

Region 5, which includes Southwest Louisiana parishes, remained in the “medium-to-high” category for influenza-like illness

— 5 to 10 percent of the population in the region have experienced flu-like symptoms over the last four weeks.

About 25 percent, or 2,701 of the 10,581 samples tested for influenza from Jan. 20 through Jan. 26, were positive, the state

Department of Health and Hospitals Influenza Surveillance Report said.

Of the 25 percent that tested positive, 79 percent, or 2,141 were influenza A cases and 20 percent, or 560 were influenza

B cases.

Boudreaux said symptoms of influenza A include upper respiratory symptoms within the first 24 hours of getting the virus and

a rapid onset fever.

She said it’s not too late for people who haven’t gotten the flu shot to get one.

“It takes a couple of weeks for the antibodies to become effective when someone gets the flu shot, but the vaccine is offered

through March,” Boudreaux said. “People who haven’t gotten the flu shot yet should absolutely get one.”