Flu death in Lake Charles, virus spikes in Louisiana

Updated: Jan. 12, 2017 at 5:54 AM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A warning this week about just how serious the flu virus can be, after the death of a patient in Lake Charles from flu complications.

The death is a tragic reminder of the virus' strength and CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital infectious disease physician, Dr. Tim Haman, says it is not something to be taken lightly.

"It is severe and it is something that you need to keep in the back of your mind," said Dr. Haman.  "If you haven't gotten your flu shot, there's still time."

This year's flu vaccine is proving to be effective and with at least two more months remaining in the heart of flu season, Dr. Haman says people need to prioritize protection.

"There's a B strain that's included in the vaccine that's been going around and then also the H1N1, which is the most common type that we've been seeing and it's also in the vaccine," said Dr. Haman.  "The cases that we've been seeing are generally people that are not vaccinated."

There is no medication to kill the virus once you get it.  Tamiflu can help shorten the duration of symptoms, but you still have to endure the fever, fatigue, aches, coughing and congestion.  It is sickening people of all ages.

"People in their 30s, 40s, 50s," said Dr. Haman, "and it's hitting the elderly, it's hitting a pretty wide cross-section of the population."

Supportive care, rest, fluids, and over-the-counter pain relievers will help you get over the flu.  

Dr. Haman says we are starting to see the post holiday and post cold weather spike in this contagious virus, along with stomach and respiratory bugs.

"You're gonna be at risk for transmitting these sorts of things and they do have an incubation period of, in a lot of cases, 10 to 14 days.  So we're seeing that we're two weeks out from Christmas and this is when we're starting to see a lot of people pop up with some of these symptoms," he said.

The best prevention is thorough handwashing.

One of the most common complications of the flu is pneumonia.  Dr. Haman says there is a new pneumonia vaccine recommended for the most at risk group, those aged 65 and older.

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