Report from Louisiana: It’s Flu Season

CDC flu map as of Jan. 13, 2018

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  Odds are good that either you or someone you know has the flu right now.  According to the latest CDC report, about 9,000 “laboratory-confirmed influenza associated hospitalizations” have been reported during this season’s flu outbreak and at least thirty children have died as a result of the virus this season.

The flu is highly active in nearly every state right now, according to the CDC.

Not only that, but those with flu are at high risk for pneumonia which can be even more deadly.  My brother is in the hospital with pneumonia right now and has been in the ER for over 24-hours because there are not enough beds in the hospital itself to put him into a room.

Over the counter drugs like Theraflu are flying off the shelves.

Is it coincidence that exactly one-hundred years ago the nation, and the world, suffered the infamous 1918 flu pandemic?:

The 1918-1919 influenza pandemic killed more people than combat did in the First World War. Maybe a lot more: fatality estimates range from 20-40 million to twice that around the globe. In the United States, a quarter of the population came down with the flu; some 675,000 died. Only the American Civil War has been more lethal.

This CBS News report on the 1918 pandemic describes just how devastating it was. We hope that this flu season is not a repeat of that but we are not yet near the end of this season yet.

The experts are giving all the usual advice to protect yourself: wash your hands, get a flu shot, stay away from loved ones who are ill, get lots of rest.  Parents are advised not to send their children to school if they are sick and business are encouraging employees to stay home if they are sick. Many doctors offices are telling patients not to come in if they have the flu: to simply call and get a prescription for Tamiflu.  Emergency rooms and urgent care clinics are overflowing with flu patients as well.

Because I teach school, I am absolutely paranoid about catching the flu; I’m around kids all day long.  I’ve loaded up on hand sanitizer (even though there are claims that it does not work) and sanitizing wipes which I use on my desks and door knobs daily.  I’m keeping a healthy distance between me and anyone who is coughing.

I have a friend who has worked in public health for over 60 years as a physician.  He firmly believes the key to preventing germs spreading is Dr. Tichenor’s antiseptic mouthwash.  He carries a small spray bottle with him during cold and flu season filled with undiluted Dr. Tichenor’s.  He puts a dab in each nostril throughout the day and sprays his throat. Between that and the flu shot, he has managed to avoid the flu every year.

I have another friend who says that her secret to staying well is to eat local honey.

I’m taking every possible precaution, but it turns out that as widespread and virulent as this year’s virus seems to be, we all may be afflicted at some point.

I hope that you all stay healthy and avoid getting sick this year.  If you have a great home remedy or advice, please share!

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.