Chilly weather could be contributing to the state’s ‘widespread’ flu epidemic

NEW ORLEANS -- The weather outside is frightful across the country -- and here locally. In fact, wet and dreary conditions could be at least one reason why this year's flu outbreak is so bad throughout the state.

This year's flu vaccine is only 10 percent effective, and that’s why doctors say basic tips, like washing your hands frequently and avoiding touching your eyes, for example, are so important.

Doctors also recommend avoiding close contact with people who are sick, staying home if you get sick and covering your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze. The overall idea is to practice good health habits.

And even though the flu vaccine is only 10 percent effective this year, doctors say that's not a good enough excuse for you not to get vaccinated, especially since Louisiana is suffering from a "widespread" threat this year.

"We should be alarmed every year. Every year 200 thousand people are hospitalized on average. Somewhere between 20-35-thousand may die from the flu in this country. That's alarming no matter how you look at it, regardless of the year, particularly for a vaccine preventable illness," says Dr. Fred Lopez with LSU Health Infectious Diseases

It takes two weeks for your body to develop immunity to the virus after you get the flu shot. And it's for this reason, that Dr. Lopez suggests risk groups, like the very old and very young for example, get vaccinated.