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LA state health officials still urging residents to take precautions against flu

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SHREVEPORT - BOSSIER CITY, La. (KTBS) -

Ten children have died in the U.S. from the flu this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

It's what claimed the life of a young Bossier City girl, and health officials across the state are still urging people to take extra precautions against the flu.

For many people, a few days rest and medication is enough to make it through a battle with the flu.

But for others, the complications associated with the virus can come on quickly and cause irreparable damage.

The virus heads straight for the body's respiratory system, attacking the nose, throat and lungs.

"Probably the most feared complication is a pneumonia that can develop typically around day 7 or 10," explains Dr. Paul Bracey, an emergency medicine specialist at Urgent Care in Shreveport.

That can often take the form of staph pneumonia, difficult to treat, and capable of causing fluid build-up and reducing oxygen supply to the lungs.

"It can affect your blood pressure and things like that. You can go into shock a little easier."

Dr. Bracey says the flu can also bring on ear infections, worsen asthma, and cause seizures in children.

In fact, studies show that H1N1 causes more neurological complications in kids than the seasonal flu.

"Anytime something foreign presents, our immune system responds and the flu tends to generate a very vigorous immune response. That's one of the theories as to why people in their 20's and 30's have more severe illness with H1N1 typically than with seasonal flu."

He says parents should keep a close eye on any behavior changes in children, such as decreased energy, no appetite, and for babies, a lack of urine in diapers.

"Fever is very common but it's not mandatory. You don't have to have fever when you have influenza."

Bossier Parish Schools say some principals are sending home information explaining to parents when they should keep their child home from school.

Health experts emphasize the first line of defense is still a flu shot. You should check with your local pharmacy or family doctor for availability.

Additionally, hand washing is strongly urged to help stop the spread of the disease and try not to touch your face.

Symptoms that shouldn't be ignored include difficulty breathing, lasting high fever, sudden dizziness, and pain or pressure in your chest.

Funeral arrangements are set for 8-year-old Kaitlyn Mills, who died from complications of H1N1, and was a student at Central Park Elementary School in Bossier City.

The visitation is Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at 6 p.m. at Winnfield Funeral Home on Hollywood Avenue in Shreveport.

The funeral will be Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 11:30 a.m. at New Zion Baptist Church in Bossier.

An account is set up at Barksdale Federal Credit Union in Kaitlyn Mills' name to help with the unexpected expenses.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals says high tech lab tests have confirmed at least 20 influenza deaths statewide since tracking began on Oct. 1, 2013.

Since October, the CDC estimates in Louisiana there may have been up to 300,000 cases, up to 500 hospitalizations, and as many as 200 deaths caused by influenza or flu-related complications.

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