Louisiana's Flu Season Expected To Spike In Coming Weeks
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana has seen a mild start to this flu season, but doctors and national experts say that may be about to change.
The latest data available from the state Department of Health and Hospitals show a small number of cases, with only about 7 percent of all tests taken for influenza coming back positive for the week of Feb. 6.
The Advocate’s Della Hasselle reports doctors and more recent data from Columbia University in New York report a spike in flu-like cases that started in mid-February.
More than 1,000 "influenza-like" cases were reported in the state, according to the Columbia data, which are compiled from local estimates of influenza incidence at the state and municipal levels using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention weekly regional reports, positive flu tests from collaborating laboratories and Google search activity.
The Columbia data found 1,059 potential flu cases the week of Feb. 14, more than double the total for the previous week, when 483 observed potential cases were reported.
Doctors in the New Orleans region have reported an increase in flu-like cases as well, with one local physician saying he had gotten as many as 20 calls a week for the last two weeks, versus the one or two calls a week he usually gets at this time of year.
"There's absolutely been a spike," said Dr. Brobson Lutz, an Uptown-based internal medicine doctor and the city's former health director. "People are coming in with complaints about flu symptoms — fever, muscle aches, pains and problems with the respiratory system."
Flu season usually starts in October and ends in May each year, but it can change depending on the virus.
In Louisiana, cases typically peak in late February or early March, according to DHH flu expert Dr. Frank Welch.