By Sabrina Bates
MVP Regional News Editor
A little more than a month ago, the Centers for Disease Control reported Tennesseans were at a higher risk than other states for flu-like illnesses and symptoms. According to information released by the CDC on Friday, the state continues to rank higher than most for flu transmission. The most-common cases reported were Type A influenza.
The CDC tracks flu-like illnesses during the flu season. Most recent reports show cases are on the rise in several states across the country. The week of November 18 showed a significant increase in respiratory sickness with flu-like symptoms, particularly in the Southeastern part of the nation.
Data for Tennessee ranks the state among the highest in the U.S. as Type A flu cases continue to rise. During the week of November 18, the most-common reported illnesses by clinics in Tennessee were flu-like at 8.7 %. The CDC baseline percent of similar cases was 3.1 % that week.
Other states with high numbers of flu-like illnesses include Alabama, Virginia, and South Carolina, along with the District of Columbia.
Nationwide there have been seven pediatric deaths related to the flu virus and approximately 2,100 total deaths. Last week, 8,707 people were admitted to the hospital as a result of a flu-like illness, with 38,000 admitted since the start of flu season. Last week was considered Week 45 by the CDC. Data reported last week is the highest in Week 45 since 2010-11.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 32 million Americans got sick with the flu from 2012-2020, including an average of 36,000 deaths from severe illness each year.
While anyone can become infected with the flu virus, some populations are at a higher risk of complications. Children younger than five years old, adults 65 and over, adults with chronic conditions, pregnant women, people with disabilities, people with HIV/AIDS, and people who have cancer are all at an elevated risk of severe illness.
According to the CDC, the first influenza-associated pediatric death of the 2022-23 season was reported in the country the week of October 22. The CDC estimates there were at least 880,000 flu illnesses; 6,900 hospitalizations; and 360 deaths from flu this season.
The CDC and Tennessee Department of Health are recommending anyone six months of age or older to get an annual flu vaccine. Vaccines are available at most area pharmacies and local health departments, which are offered at no charge.
Flu signs and symptoms usually come on suddenly, according to the CDC. Symptoms often reported with the onset of flu include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue, and some report vomiting or diarrhea. Not all flu cases will have a fever.
Most experts think that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby (usually within about six feet away), or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
Flu viruses can be detected in most infected persons beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. People with flu are most contagious in the first three to four days after their illness begins.