Flu cases surge in Louisiana ahead of season's peak

Flu season has hit Louisiana early this year (Source: WAFB)
Flu season has hit Louisiana early this year (Source: WAFB)
Dr. Mariam Busch with Baton Rouge General (Source: WAFB)
Dr. Mariam Busch with Baton Rouge General (Source: WAFB)
Baton Rouge General Physicians (Source: WAFB)
Baton Rouge General Physicians (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - As the flu virus takes an even stronger hold on Louisiana, there's a greater risk more people could get infected.

The coughing, sneezing, and downright ugly sounds of winter illness heard around the office are tell-tale signs the flu may be lurking. "The main symptoms are fevers, chills, muscle aches, sore throats, runny nose, cough, and congestion," said Dr. Mariam Busch with Baton Rouge General.

Flu cases have flooded Louisiana early this year. The strain of the virus is aggressive and is only expected to get worse as the peak of the season bears down on the Bayou State.

RELATED: App uses social media to track illnesses

"Typically in the past, February has been more of the peak season, but we've seen several cases, I mean a lot of cases in December," said Busch.

Whether they swear by the flu shot or hiss at the thought of needles, Busch recommends folks still get the vaccine even though this year it's not quite as effective, meaning with or without out it, people could still be at risk. "Even with that said, it's still worth getting because it still helps prevent the severity of the symptoms," Busch added.

Even with less severe symptoms, she says it's important for folks to protect themselves. If someone in their home already has the flu, every other member of the household is encouraged to take precaution. "It is worth contacting your healthcare provider because you can get on Tamiflu prophylactically to try to help prevent the spread to other family members," added Busch.

The usual tips for protection include washing hands thoroughly and frequently and covering coughs with the inside of the elbow. But experts say it can be tricky to stop the flu from spreading because people could have the virus even before symptoms show up.

"So just being aware of being around people who are sick and just taking the necessary precautions. That really does help prevent the spread by limiting that contact," said Busch.

Busch says the simple act of limiting contact can go a long way in helping folks keep those around them free of the flu.

Copyright 2017 WAFB. All rights reserved.