Health experts say flu season at its peak

JACKSON, Tenn. — Statistics show flu cases are on the rise in Tennessee. The Tennessee Department of Health said more than half of Tennessee’s 95 counties had at least one confirmed case in recent weeks.

“Right now we’re actually at the peak of flu season,” Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department Epidemiologist Shanna Shearon said.

The state health department confirmed 642 cases of flu in Tennessee the second week in February, up more than 100 cases from the week before.

Shearon said every year is different. “We can never really anticipate when it’s going to hit us,” she said.

Jackson-Madison County General Hospital confirms it admitted about 50 adults and 11 children so far this month for flu or flu-related illness. Dr. Dave Roberts said it’s been one of their busiest months. “Children are in school,” he said. “There’s more herding of folks together.”

According to the state health department, during the second week of February Jackson-Madison County reported about 36 percent of outpatients had flu-like symptoms — more than five times the state average. They said flu-like illness in the area is consistently higher than others because of the classification process used here. The state health department said laboratory-confirmed cases suggest flu cases are rising but are lower than the Jackson-Madison County rate suggests.

Roberts said it is not too late to get a flu shot. “Especially if you are a person who has an underlying chronic illness — lung disease, heart disease, diabetes,” he said.

Flu symptoms include muscle aches, runny nose and lack of energy. “Fever over 100 with a cough and/or a sore throat,” Shearon said.

If you have symptoms, health experts said see a doctor immediately.

If you get the flu, Roberts said avoid overusing antibiotics to treat the symptoms because they will not be effective when you actually need them.