Cases of flu and other viruses spike in recent weeks

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - If it seems like many people are sick right now, it may be because of a spike in viruses like the flu in recent weeks.

Louisiana currently has a higher proportion of flu cases than the national average, according to the CDC.

"We are definitely seeing increases across age groups in Louisiana still to this point. Whether it's small children, or elderly, who are of course most at risk, but also throughout the age span," Benjamin Springgate, LSU Health Chief of Community and Population Medicine said.

However, it's still a significantly healthier year than last.

Across the state, there's been over 90 percent less people hospitalized and deaths from the flu so far compared to the entire flu season last year.

"To date, we've seen about 1,200 hospitalizations from the flu, and about 120 deaths. this time last year, we were at the peak of the season. So thankfully, we haven't reached those numbers," Joseph Kanter, Louisiana Dept. of Health Administrator and Director of Health said.

Springgate said nationwide, the number of childhood deaths from the flu also went down from last year.

"I'm not certain whether that means that our vaccines are simply more effective, or other elements of it, such as the virus may not be as successful in attacking young children," Springgate said.

It's not just the flu that's going around, people are getting sick from a whole mix of viruses.

"There are a lot of different viruses out there including influenza virus, and so many times if someone gets fever and chills and aches and nausea and vomiting, it could be flu, but it could also be an influenza-like illness or a different type of virus," Springgate said.

The peak flu months just started, so the number of flu cases are expected to pick up.

“We want the public to be really aware that the flu is out there, that people need to take precautions, and again, it’s not too late to get vaccinated if you haven’t yet,” Kanter said.

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