According to the Louisiana Department of Health, the flu is on the rise as almost 6% of doctor visits are for flu-like symptoms. LDH flu bug expert Dr. Frank Welch said the state has seen several small outbreaks in schools and nursing homes.

“We are definitely in the thick of flu season.  Now, I am happy to report that it is not as bad as last year,” said Welch.

Welch said the strain that seems to be going around is a very serious strain known as H1N1 that has been going around for the past decade.

“Not as many people are getting the flu, but if they are, it’s this more serious type,” said Welch.

Welch said while there are a number of preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of catching the flu, the best protection is to get the flu shot.

“If it doesn’t completely protect you, it will certainly protect you from getting really sick from that more serious strain.  And then there are those general rules of washing your hands, cover your cough, stay away from sick people,” said Welch.