Jan 9, 2013 7:49 PM by Chris Welty
Louisiana is one of 29 states reporting widespread cases of the flu.
State health experts say the most commonly identified strain of flu is one of the three covered by this year's vaccine. This flu season is being called the worst outbreak in a decade, starting in October instead of January.
Lafayette General Medical Center has treated 280 people between October and December last year. Most of those were treated in the emergency room. Three people were hospitalized ages 58, 69 and 79. Most of those flu cases are patients under 18.
Pauline Richard has seen the reports. She typically doesn't get a flu shot, but this year she's worried and plans to make her husband get one too.
"He's not big on shots. I think it would be to our benefit to take it," said Richard.
Doctor Farha Khan at Lafayette General's Family Health Plaza says this year's flu strain is aggressive and she's seen more patients.
"It is the H3N2 Virus that is circulating. It's very infectious, but fortunately, the flu shot is working really well," said Khan.
The majority of flu cases seen at Lafayette General Medical Center are children. 200 to be exact. Children five and under made up the most cases with one hundred eleven patients. 65 kids six to 12 years old were treated and 24 teens 13 to 18.
Doctor Khan says, no matter your age, you still have time to get your shot.
"Once you get symptoms of flu which start abruptly, do come in and get checked. Tami-Flu which is anti-viral can be prescribed, but it is best if prescribed early."
Flu season typically peaks in February with the cold weather but tapers off by the spring.
"However, the Center for Disease Control is saying it's probably not the cold weather because we've seen flu here in Louisiana when it was not cold at all. So, hopefully by spring, but it's too early to tell," said Dr. Khan.
Our Lady of Lourdes in Lafayette has not seen as many flu patients. Between October first and January eighth, 79 people have been treated and a few hospitalized.
Typically, you have the option of a flu shot or a "nasal mist," but this year doctors are already out of the "nasal flu mist."
The Center for Disease Control suggests that everyone six months of age and older get a yearly vaccine.