State officials say the flu season is ramping up, even though it has had a slow start in Louisiana.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals show only a small number of cases, about seven percent, as of early February. However, they say that number could spike before the season ends.
Officials with Minden Medical Center offer ways people can protect themselves from getting the flu and prevent its spread.
The very first, and most important thing, they say, is to get the flu shot.
“This is the best available form of protection from the virus,” MMC officials said. “It is still possible to contract the flu after being vaccinated, but less likely. Furthermore, studies have shown that if you do get sick with the flu, the vaccine may make your illness milder.”
Other ways people can protect themselves include:
Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, for 20 seconds.
Use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol-based.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Avoid sharing food, cups or eating utensils.
Disinfect your home and belongings, such as children’s toys and play areas.
Stay home from school or work if you are sick.
Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with a tissue, your sleeve or elbow, and not your bare hands.
Get a flu shot.
Call your local hospital or your primary care doctor with any questions.
If you visit someone in the hospital and are experiencing flu-like symptoms, MMC is providing masks as well as tissue and hand sanitizer stations throughout the facility.
Symptoms of the flu include coughing, sore throat and upper respiratory symptoms. Early detection is especially important for young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with certain chronic health issues.
It is also important to limit contact with others as much as possible after noticing symptoms.
For anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms, call your doctor and get tested, officials said.