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LSU Health Shreveport Confirms Flu Virus Infection

With the onset of colder weather, the expected arrival of the influenza virus has been confirmed by LSU Health Shreveport’s Diagnostic Virology Laboratory.

An influenza infection was first confirmed on a local high school student. Additional flu cases have appeared in the area over the past two weeks.

The confirmation of the virus’ resurgence underscores the need for high-risk individuals who have not yet received the influenza vaccine to do so as soon as possible, says John Vanchiere, MD PhD, Chief of the Section of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at LSU Health Shreveport.

As in other parts of the country, the influenza virus detected locally is a type A, H3N2 strain.

“It is important for physicians to know that type A Influenza has been confirmed locally because it alerts them that their patients with fever and other flu-like symptoms may actually have Influenza virus infection,” said Dr. Vanchiere. “The doctor can then decide if the patient should receive one of the anti-viral drugs effective against influenza.”

Individuals who are at the highest risk for severe influenza or complications from it, Dr. Vanchiere said, are infants less than two years of age, adults older than 65 years of age, and adults and children with asthma and other chronic medical problems, including diabetes. Recently. pregnant women have been particularly vulnerable to infection.

Once in the community, influenza outbreaks typically last four to eight weeks or longer, he noted. Vaccination, hand-washing and coughing into your elbow or a tissue are important to protect oneself from influenza infection and to reduce the spread to others.

Influenza vaccine is plentiful this year and recommended for all adults, children and infants older than six months old. The vaccine is available in either a nasal spray or a shot.

Individuals who are at the highest risk for severe influenza or complications from it, Dr. Vanchiere said, are infants less than two years of age, adults older than 65 years of age, and adults and children with asthma and other chronic medical problems, including diabetes.  In recent years, pregnant women have been particularly vulnerable to influenza virus infection.

Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, often with chills, headaches, tiredness, muscle aches and pains and a dry cough.  Respiratory symptoms increase as the illness progresses, and patients experience sore throat, nasal congestion and a worsening cough.

Children and adolescents with influenza should not be given aspirin because it is associated with an increased risk of developing Reye’s Syndrome, an inflammatory disease of the liver, said Dr. Vanchiere.

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