The flu virus is active in Acadiana, and health officials are warning that this season could be the worst one they have seen in recent years. From January to March, the highest number of cases are reported. Dr. Tina Stefanski, Medical Director for the region for the Office of Public Health said they were a higher number of cases being reported earlier .
"The flu is unpredictable. Last year, we saw very low activity. It's different every year."
Family Medicine Physician, Dr. Indira Gautum said there could be three factors that play into this season's high activity.
"Some of it may just the virus itself, some of it may be that people haven't been immunized. Some of it may be the overall economic standpoint. People have to work, so they go to work sick and end up spreading it," she explained.
According to officials, over 36,000 people die from complications related to the flu annually. Gautum said when someone gets the virus, it exposes them to other illnesses.
"Their lungs, which were already attacked by a virus and weakened and then attacked by a bacteria. You can get things like bacterial pneumonia, which can cause a lot of problems."
The vaccine, according to Stefanski, is a person's protection against the virus. She explained, "No vaccine is 100% effective, but it is still the best defense."
Simple precautions such as covering the mouth when coughing, washing hands and staying home once sick, can help keep the virus from spreading. Both physicians believe these steps, along with the vaccine, could help keep the already higher than normal season, from becoming an epidemic.