BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Doctors in Baton Rouge are asking you to take extra health precautions this holiday season.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, the state is at a high-risk level for the spread of the flu.

“We have seen a lot of respiratory viruses in the emergency room and in the hospital for the past several months,” said Dr. Shaun Kemmerly, Chief Medical Officer of Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.

Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital is seeing a 60% increase in emergency room visits. Dr. Kemmerly says there’s been a slight decline this week, but it’s been busy since August.

“With the surge, we increased our providers in the emergency room, we changed up how we manage some things in the emergency room,” she said. “We were able to open up additional medical surgical beds in the hospital.”

Dr. Kemmerly says it’s important to know when to take your child to the pediatrician or the emergency room.

“When to go to your emergency room? Your pediatrician can help guide you. Signs to go to the emergency room when kids are having respiratory illness, sometimes kids are breathing so fast and hard that they can’t drink, so they may get dehydrated,” said Kemmerly.

Ochsner Family Medicine Dr. Rachael Kermis says you can reduce your risk of getting sick this year.

“If you’re not feeling well, stay at home, wash your hands. Again we kind of go back to the whole, if you’re coughing do the vampire cough into your elbow,” said Dr. Kermis.

Kermis also says to be aware of food safety.

“The brief times I worked urgent care after Thanksgiving we had a lot of people come in with gastroenteritis. Kind of a good rule of thumb is if something has been out for an hour or two, you probably don’t want to eat it,” she said.

Ochsner provides the following health tips for the season:

  • Keep moving, exercise is important
  • Challenge yourself to come up with some new, healthy holiday traditions for your whole family to enjoy.
  • Make time for self-care
  • Avoid visiting the elderly community if feeling under the weather

Health experts urge those who can to get the flu shot, especially before the holiday parties and shopping begin.