BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Students at LSU are in the middle of sorority rush, but doctors at the university say they've already treated 55 students for type "A" flu and health officials say it is likely swine flu.
Louisiana officials say people between the ages of five and 24 are the most susceptible for the flu. The students at LSU with type "A" flu are not allowed to participate in this week's rush activities, unless they've been symptom-free for at least 48 hours. Dr. Timothy Honigman with the LSU Student Health Center says they hope that will slow the spread. "Normally, we don't see influenza in the summertime at all," he said. "So, this is an unusual year due to this new strain."
Already, there have been an estimated 20,000 cases of swine flu in Louisiana. Experts expect those numbers to grow every day. The unusualness of this new flu is what concerns health experts across the state the most. "This one didn't do what you'd normally expect the flu to do. You don't expect it to go through the summer and still be here, so it's already not doing what we thought it would do," said Louisiana Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry.
Dr. Guidry says another surprise is the older generation seems to be almost immune from this flu. "We feel like people we normally expect to get it that are older, they may have been exposed to the flu before and it seems to give them some kind of resistance," he said. Even with precautions like hand-washing and home rest, Guidry expects this flu to affect about twice as many people as a typical flu year. "Literally, we could see as many as 70,000 people around the country dying if we don't pay attention to this virus," he cautioned.
Guidry says that means those most at-risk of contracting the flu need to get vaccinated as soon as a swine flu vaccine is available. He expects a limited amount of doses to be ready by October.