Flu cases widespread and high in number in Louisiana: CDC

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"Widespread" means that more than 50 per cent of geographic regions within the state are reporting flu activity. "They're seeing that it's somewhere in the range of 10% to 33% viable, so whenever there's a crisscross between the antibody and the coursing strain of seasonal influenza, you will see more cases".

Concerned with this year's predominant circulating flu strain, health officials are asking providers to prescribe antiviral medications as soon as possible, particularly to hospitalized and high risk patients, and to put flu high on their list of diagnoses when examining sick patients. "Even if the vaccine isn't as effective this year as we might hope it to be, it still is the best insurance of not getting seriously ill from the flu".

DHHS reported last week that more than 200 North Carolinians tested positive for the virus.

The annual flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting individuals, families and communities from the influenza (flu) virus, the health experts said.

Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's FluView noted the number of states reporting widespread flu activity jumped from 23 to 36 for the week ending December 23, the latest report available.

So far this flu season in IN, there have been nine influenza-associated deaths, and 13 long-term care facility outbreaks, the state health department reported.

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As of this week, there was "high activity" of the flu - the highest prevalence ranking - in almost half of the US.

Symptoms of influenza include fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches, and extreme fatigue. Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from flu.

"If you are sick, we advise you stay at home".

How do you know if you have the flu?

Despite these painful symptoms, most people will recover in less than two weeks.

"Make sure you're using hand sanitizer a lot", said Dr. Charles Bregier with Novant Health.

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