Flu cases on rise in East Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - Cases of the flu are on the rise in East Tennessee.

The University of Tennessee Medical Center says they have seen a sharp increase in flu cases, which led to visitor restrictions being implemented last Thursday. They say they have seen more flu patients in the last week than the saw in the entire month of December last year, mainly due to the fact that flu season didn't start until February.

Covenant Health also says flu cases are up slightly over the last two weeks as compared to the same time period last year, but they expected that because experts predicted this flu season would probably be more severe than in years past. They say Covenant hospitals are operating as normal.

Tennova has also seen an increase from November to December and an overall increase from last year.

Russ Dailey with Summit Express Clinic says the best treatment of the flu is prevention. Cough into your elbow, not your hands, and wash your hands frequently. 

If you think you have the flu you need to see a doctor as soon as possible.

"The medicine we use for the flu needs to be started within the first 48 hours," said Dailey. "So, if you feel like you have the flu you need to be seen in a timely fashion. Quick enough that it will be effective."

The flu shot is appearing to be 10 percent effective this season, but it is still important to have one. 

"I think it's typical every year for the shot to miss some strains," said Dailey. "Every year they pick the strains that are most likely to be a factor that year. They can only put three or four strains in the shot and so there are always some that get missed."

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