Experts: Flu cases on the rise, spiking later than usual
BATON ROUGE - Flu cases in the capital region are on the rise, and are peaking unusually late in the season. Experts say it's spreading from the south.
Dr. Alex Billioux is the Assistant Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health's Office of Public Health. He says the virus is hitting the New Orleans area hard this month.
"It doesn't take too long before it spreads up from New Orleans to other areas," Dr. Billioux said. "Being careful this time of year is most important."
He also says the flu season usually peaks in December and January, but it's coming late this season.
"In the last three or four weeks we have seen a real spike in flu activity," he added.
Dr. Catherine O'Neal agrees. She's the Director of Infectious Disease at Our Lady of Lake, and believes the flu shot developed for this season doesn't actually cover all the strains going around.
"We are seeing widespread flu activity in Louisiana and surrounding states," Dr. O'Neal said. "The vaccine in the U.S. is not covering the pandemic strain that we first saw a few years ago."
Health officials say getting a flu shot is still the best defense against catching the virus. Shots are available at all state health clinics, and are free for patients without insurance.