From: Frank J. Welch, MD
Bureau of Community Preparedness
Louisiana Office of Public Health
Short Influenza Talking Points
January 11, 2018
• Influenza activity continues to increase nationally and across Louisiana.
• Influenza-like illness represents >11% of all healthcare visits this week in Louisiana and >30% of influenza tests are positive.
• A significant amount of our current flu is the H3N2 “A” virus, which can be a lead to more serious illness.
• There is a strong recommendation for early antiviral treatment of anyone suspected of having the flu.
• A rapid flu test is not necessary to prescribe antivirals. If you suspect flu, prescribe them!
• A negative flu test does not mean you don’t have the flu. False negatives are common when influenza activity is high.
• Now is still a good time to get vaccinated. Flu vaccine is readily available for both children and adults at health care providers, community pharmacies and parish health units in Louisiana.
• Even with vaccine effectiveness in the range of 30 to 60 percent, vaccination is the best way to prevent flu illness and serious flu complications.
• While flu vaccine is not perfect and some people who get vaccinated may still get flu, there is data to suggest that flu vaccination may make illness milder.
• Getting vaccinated yourself protects people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.
• A 2017 study has shown that flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from influenza.
Stay Home if Sick
• Most people who are otherwise healthy and get the flu should stay home from work or school and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care. Call your doctor to see if an antiviral medication should be prescribed.
• If, you have symptoms of flu and are in a high-risk group or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your health care provider immediately.
• People at high risk for developing flu-related complications include:
• Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old,
• Adults 65 years of age and older,
• Pregnant women and new mothers,
• Residents or nursing homes and long-term care facilities,
• American Indians, and
• Persons with certain health conditions.
• If you get the flu, call your doctor. Antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness. The earlier you begin taking antivirals, the better.
• Antiviral drugs can also make flu illness milder and shorten the time a person is sick. Antiviral drugs may prevent serious flu complications. Currently, there are no shortages of antiviral medications.