Newswise — Cases of flu-like respiratory illnesses continue to be widespread in many parts of the U.S. Influenza B was the predominant strain in late 2019, but influenza A is likely to surge in the coming weeks and can be more severe than B, says Tulane University flu expert, Dr. David Mushatt. He's available to speak about ways to stay healthy.

“Since the flu season can extend into April, it's still not too late to go get a flu shot. Remember, most flu vaccines are not a live virus and therefore cannot give you the flu. Some aching at the injection site is well worth the protection the shot provides, especially against being hospitalized or dying from the flu,” said Mushatt, associate professor of medicine and chief of Tulane Adult Infectious Disease Section at Tulane School of Medicine. 

"This time of year, wash your hands more frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer, especially after being out in public. And try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your fingers, as this can introduce the virus."

"Mardi Gras brings together thousands of folks from all around the country and world, often in close quarters at parties and along the parade routes. This is a fertile environment for spread of the flu, at a time when there could be a second wave in the epidemic. Be sure to get a flu shot at least 10 days before you venture out, as it takes that long for the vaccine to kick in. Avoid excessive alcohol and try to get a good night's sleep."

"If you think you have the flu, and you can usually tell by the fever, achiness and respiratory symptoms, try to get the antiviral onseltamivir (Tamiflu) within 24-48 hours when it works best. You can call your doctor's office, or it may be quicker to go to an urgent care center."

To schedule an interview with Dr. Mushatt, please contact [email protected] or Carolyn Scofield at 504-247-1443.