Flu activity on the rise; officials urge flu shots - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Flu activity on the rise; officials urge flu shots

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In the final week of 2013, flu season across the nation continued to rise with 20 states experiencing high activity.

"We typically see our peak somewhere in the months of January and February. Comparing this to last year, we're at about the same percentage," said Dr. Marilyn M. Reynaud, Regional Administrator Medical Director for the Department of Health and Hospitals.

While there are several different strains of the flu virus floating around, the Centers for Disease Control reports that the most common infection comes from the H1N1 strain also known as the Swine Flu. That's the same virus that caused a pandemic back in 2009.

However, the H1N1 strain is one of those that the flu vaccine protects against.

According to the CDC, southern states are seeing the most flu like symptoms, with Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi at the heart of the activity.  Health officials warn that the flu is a serious illness, especially for those with a weak immune system.

"The very young, especially children under the age of five; individuals who are over the age of 65; someone with heart disease diabetes, lung disease; we do know that if those individuals get the flu, they can have serious complications," said Reynaud.

Those complications can lead to pneumonia and other respiratory problems, even death.

Doctors still recommend that everyone should get a flu shot, even this late in the season.  Studies have even shown that the flu shot can even reduce symptoms if you still contract the virus.

Other preventative steps include: wash your hands frequently, cover any cough, limit contact from anyone who is sick, and go see your doctor at the first sign of symptoms. 

For more information on flu season, click here.

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