H1N1 takes more LA lives

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - While flu activity has simmered down throughout the country, the World Health Organization is urging everyone in the global community to not jump to premature conclusions about the H1N1 virus.

In the past month, five more Louisiana residents have died from complications related to the virus and that is a number that is still expected to rise.

The term "flu fatigue" is something that sums up how many Americans feel about the H1N1 virus. For almost a year now, it's dominated headlines, we've heard the words "pandemic," "outbreak" and "vaccinations" enough to last a lifetime - but that doesn't mean you can let your guard down.

Dr. B.J. Foch with the Region V Office of Public Health says, "The H1N1 flu, just like any other flu virus is an unpredictable enemy. We don't know what will happen with it. Our best weapon against such an unpredictable enemy is the vaccination."

While the traditional flu season lasts from November through March, the H1N1 virus has not followed this pattern. Fortunately, we have not yet seen a third wave of H1N1, but the death toll continues to rise, primarily due to complications from a pre-existing medical condition, as Calcasieu Parish Coroner Terry Welke told 7News after the October death of a Moss Bluff teen.  "The individuals that have died in the past as a result of this, had some medical problems," says Dr. Welke, "medical complications or pre-existing medical conditions."

The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control confirm a total of 2,238 cases of the H1N1 virus in Louisiana since last spring.  There are now 48 deaths to report - up five from just a month ago.

Medical professionals say vaccination is still key to preventing the virus and it's not too late to get yours.  "We are giving the H1N1 flu vaccine," says Dr. Foch, "you just need to call and check on the availability of the supply at the heath units."

In an updated plan from an FDA advisory committee, we should have just one flu shot this fall, rather than two or three. There are plans to include the 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu strain in the 2010-2011 flu vaccine.

For the information you need to stay protected this flu season, click here.

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