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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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State health department: Flu widespread throughout Louisiana

State health department: Flu widespread throughout Louisiana

Department offers tips to minimize the spread of the flu

Louisiana's health department says flu is widespread in the state, and it's still early in the season.

Secretary Rebekah Gee says in a news release Wednesday that Louisiana appears on the way to a severe flu season.

“In more severe seasons, the flu causes approximately 700 deaths and nearly 8,000 hospitalizations each year,” said Dr. Gee. “In Louisiana we are already on track to meet and possibly exceed these statistics for the current flu season.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Louisiana is among 36 states with widespread flu activity.

“Now is still a good time to get a flu shot. Flu vaccine is readily available for both children and adults throughout the state at health care providers, community pharmacies and parish health units in each region,” said Dr. Jimmy Guidry, state health officer, Louisiana Department of Health. “Although a flu shot is never 100 percent effective, a vaccination is the best way to prevent getting sick from the flu and getting serious flu complications.”

The CDC and the Louisiana Department of Heath recommend a yearly flu shot for everyone over six months of age who does not have a complicating condition, such as a prior allergic reaction to the flu shot.

A flu shot is especially crucial for people who may be at higher risk for serious complications. This includes babies and young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions and people 65 years and older.

The flu shot is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women, who can pass on antibodies to their babies that will help protect them.

The flu shot starts to offer partial protection immediately, but takes about two weeks to offer full protection.

The state health department offers these reminders to help keep people from spreading the flu:

- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

- If you have cold symptoms or have fever greater than 100.3, stay away from others until you have not had a fever for 24 hours.

- Call your doctor immediately to see if an antiviral medication is appropriate for you.

- If you are sick, do not visit vulnerable loved ones who may be receiving care in a hospital, nursing home, cancer center or other setting.

- If you are sick, do not kiss babies, pregnant women, grandparents, and others who may be at a higher risk of getting sick.

- Cover your cough and sneeze.

- Try not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth.

- Wash your hands frequently.

- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

- It’s still not too late to get a flu shot.

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