Doctors: Flu strain hitting SWLA worse than 2009 swine flu

Doctors: Flu strain hitting SWLA worse than 2009 swine flu
A microscopic view of the influenza virus.

The CDC isn't calling it an epidemic just yet, but this year's flu season is widespread and severe, with a new strain of the virus causing issues nationwide.
Medical experts in the Lake Area say this is the most active flu season they've seen since 2013. It's causing widespread effects throughout SWLA.

For example, Lake Charles Urgent care has been seeing a surge of sick patients.

"Depending on the day, we may see over 100 patients with at least a half, or maybe three-fourths of them having flu-like symptoms," said Dr. Jay Marque.

Marque says Louisiana kicked off this flu season as the first state with a widespread flu outbreak.

"Flu season is turning out to be really severe compared to the last couple years," said Marque. "The last time we had anything close to this was 2013 and before that, it was 2009, when the Swine flu was really bad."

The CDC says more than 41,000 flu cases have been reported. That's nearly three times more than this time last season.

The strain responsible is called H3N2, a particularly deadly variety of the virus.

"It's a very tough strain and they're saying that the flu vaccine is not very effective against the strain," said Marque.

That has been causing worry across the country.

"A lot of people look at the ten percent number for the effectiveness of the flu vaccine," said Marque. "We actually won't know that until the end of flu season to see how effective it was, but it's more effective than that for most strains of the virus."

Since more people are getting sick, they're flooding pharmacies like Gordon's Drug Store.

Pharmacist and owner George Paret says the demand for Tamiflu is through the roof.

"It's been pretty wild," said Paret. "People are coming in with the whole family getting it."

But, they do have it in stock!

"We do, as of now…" said Paret.

It goes quickly.

"We get in ten boxes and it'll be gone by the end of the day," said Paret.

The good news is this year's flu seems to be quite susceptible to Tamiflu.

Doctors still recommend the flu shot, because we aren't out of the woods just yet. There's still a few more months left to catch the virus.

If you've already got it, click HERE for a list of some pharmacies with flu medicine in stock.

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