Widespread flu outbreak, Tamiflu tough to find

Widespread flu outbreak, Tamiflu tough to find

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The flu is approaching epidemic levels in parts of the United States this week.  Louisiana is one of 37 states reporting a widespread flu outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Jay Marque with Lake Charles Urgent Care says he is seeing a high number of patients testing positive for the flu.

"We've seen flu over the past couple of months, but over the last two weeks, we've definitely seen an uptick where we're seeing many patients throughout the day who come in with influenza or flu-like symptoms," said Dr. Marque.

Dr. Marque says he is treating children and adults, with the typical flu symptoms.

"Most of them have fever, cough, runny nose, headache, body aches, occasionally vomiting and diarrhea, but that's not a typical flu-like symptom," he said.

You can spread the flu through droplets for up to one week after symptoms start, that is why it is important to stay home and reduce your germ exposure.  Treatment is rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications.    

"A young, healthy patient usually does well just by staying home and treating symptoms: Tylenol, Motrin, fluids," said Dr. Marque.  "However, there is some benefit to Tamiflu, in that it shortens the duration of illness."

Tamiflu has to be taken within 48 hours of symptoms starting to see a benefit and it is best for the very young, very old, and those with weakened immune systems.

The local flu spike has been so sudden, that many pharmacies cannot keep up with the demand for Tamiflu.

"When we have spikes in flu activity like we're having right now, they often run low, so it's common that patients have difficulty finding Tamiflu," said Dr. Marque.

Dr. Marque says he is seeing the supply catch up with the demand now and the biggest prevention continues to be the flu shot.

The number of flu cases generally peaks in February.  Along with flu, the state health department reports the number of cases of RSV, rhinovirus, and enterovirus continues to be high.

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