East Tenn. doctors say too soon to tell if flu season has peaked

Local News

A number of East Tennessee schools are still closed for illness. 

Area hospitals share the latest numbers each week which report how many influenza tests came back positive.

UT Medical Center reports as of February 21, there have been 61 positive cases of Flu A and three positive cases of Flu B this month.

East Tennessee Children’s Hospital reports for the week of February 11-17, they had 160 positive flu tests and nearly 1,000 cases so far this season.

“We really are seeing everything. So we’ve got stomach bugs, we’ve got the vomiting and diarrhea. We’ve got the flu, we’ve got RSV,” said Dr. Heather Radu with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

With so much sickness, schools have been closed, and when that happens, Dr. Radu says it helps.

“Really you’re contagious a day before you start to show symptoms. So once you’re contagious, you can be at school not showing those symptoms. So when you close it, you’re preventing the spread and they’re doing really thorough cleanings which helps it get off the surfaces and attenuated a little bit.”

There’s a job for parents though when schools are closed during these kinds of breaks.

“Washing backpacks, coats, scarves, making sure you’re cleaning what they wore to school is absolutely important as well,” said Dr. Radu.

Physicians say it also comes down to keeping kids at home and washing hands.

“For the parents to really make it successful, they really need to keep the kids away from each other,” said Dena Mashburn, director of nursing with the Knox County Health Department.

Both ETCH and the Health Department say this year’s flu season is much milder compared to last year.

“We’re not at the peak, the usual peak yet. That changes every year. The vaccine is a little more effective this year than last year especially for some particular strains,” added Mashburn.

While it’s still cold and flu season, Mashburn says the best advice, “Washing hands is huge in the prevention of the transmission of any germs.”

UT Medical Center shared that 46 out of the 95 counties in Tennessee have recently had a resident with lab-confirmed flu results.

The Knox County Health Department says it’s not too late to get your flu shot. It takes roughly two weeks for the vaccine to be in your system, but it can reduce the severity of symptoms as well as complications.

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