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Posted: Thursday, 20 February 2014 9:14AM

DHH: Flu will kill 500 to 600 people this year in Louisiana

It's been a rough flu season in Louisiana.  State health officials say when all of the date is in, there may well be more than 500 deaths from influenza in Louisiana this season.

There indications the outbreak is slowing down, and it's possible that we've already hit our peak earlier than usual.

At the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Dr. Frank Welch says the biggest threat is still the H1N1 variety, that caused a lot of misery in December and January.  Those reported cases have been cut in half.

''Four out of every hundred visits to a doctor or a hospital is for the flu, still no where near the eight visits we were at before,'' said Welch.

Listen to Dr. Frank Welch:

Not all the news is encouraging as another strain of flu has crept it.

''It's one we call the B-variant and we're seeing more and more of this B-variant contributing to the over all flu activity,'' the doctor said.

Welch says while warmer weather gets more people outside, any time people get together and congregate the flu can be spread and here comes Mardi Gras.

Welch still advises washing hands a lot, covering coughs and staying home when you're sick.  Finally, he says there is still time to get a flu shot.

The doctor says officially they have recorded fewer than 100 deaths so far, but when all of the testing is done, he expects that number to be dramatically higher.

"By the time this year is over we will have somewhere upwards of... 500 or 600 people... who have died from the flu this year (in Louisiana)."

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