Flu numbers down overall in Knox County

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Knoxville (WVLT) - More cases of the flu of being reported across East Tennessee, but overall, the numbers are down for the year.

Volunteer TV's Liz Tedone has the update.

It may seem like Knox County's flu cases are climbing at a higher rate than surrounding areas.

In the past couple of weeks, the bulk of our 359 cases have surfaced. Blount County is reporting 215 cases, followed by Sevier County with 130 cases. Other East Tennessee counties like Morgan and Granger are only showing a handful of flu cases.

We've learned these numbers can be deceiving. Unlike surrounding counties, Knox County has the ability to aggressively track flu cases. It works with Summit Medical Group, the largest physicians group in the metro area.

"They work with us year round and provide us with information. We call it syndromic surveillance so they provide this info for us on a regular basis," said Dr. Martha Buchanan from the Knox County Health Department.

It's a large database of patients, a resource not available in outlying counties, and we learned these numbers also include people with flu-like symptoms as well as confirmed cases.

"Only a culture confirms the case of the flu and still across the state of Tennessee. We've had very few culture-confirmed cases of the flu," Dr. Buchanan said.

It's not too late to get a flu shot. The Knox County Health Department tells us this year flu season may run into late March.

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