Flu season arrives late in East Tennessee

By: Stacy McCloud Email
By: Stacy McCloud Email

Local doctors thought that just maybe Tennessee would get away with a really mild flu season. Turns out it's just really late.

From the common winter illness filling his waiting room one week, to back to back cases of the flu the next, Dr. Jay Hammett says the tables have turned in what seemed to be a non existent flu season.
" A couple years ago it hit really early, around October to January. This year we were thinking we wouldn't even get a flu till last week when we saw a whirlwind of patients," says Dr. Hammett.

The flu seasons late arrival could be good news for those who didn't get a flu shot.
With the flu bug hitting late, Dr. Hammett says it's not to late to be immunized.

On the flip side, the late arrival of the flu could be bad news for those who did the exact opposite. "The immunization can vary three to four months. If they got it in October or early November it could be weaning," explains Dr. Hammett.

Whether you got the flu shot early or late, Dr. Hammett says the vaccine itself seems to be working. "They got the proper strain, they pegged it," exclaims Dr. Hammett.

The drug to ease your symptoms, not so much. Dr. Hammett says the anti-viral drug Tamiflu seems to be resistant to the strain of flu providers are seeing.
"We are having to use older anti-viral meds. One is recommended by the CDC and it's inhaled but isn't very available by what our pharmacies are saying, " explains Dr. Hammett. Meaning primary prevention is the best course of action this year.

Make sure and wash your hands often, keep sanitizer handy, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and try to stay out of crowded areas.

If you do end up with the flu, aside from getting to a doctor early, rest and lots of fluids, Dr. Hammett says the bottom line is simple.
"Stay home, don't go to work, don't spread the misery."

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