Health officials are preparing for a busy flu season this year as higher than normal reports of the illness have already been reported in several southern states, including Tennessee.
According to Dr. Juli Horton, an infectious disease physician at Tri-Star Centennial Hospital, this is the earliest reported flu season in 10 years.
“There has been an early uptick in the amount of influenza infections and influenza like illnesses that we have been seeing both nationally and regionally,” Horton said.
Dr. Horton told Nashville's News 2 the flu virus mutates from year to year and health officials try to predict which strains will emerge each flu season.
“The predictions aren't always perfect,” she said. “This year they happen to be pretty much spot on as to what the virus is and what the components of the vaccine are.”
The physician also added the best protection against the flu virus is the flu vaccination and that this year's flu is a virus that has been deadly in the past.
“It is never too late to get the flu vaccine. It is certainly in plentiful supply,” she said, adding, “The strain that is circulating certainly can cause more symptoms and problems and has been associated with excessive numbers of pneumonia and death in years past.”
The CDC reports around 24,000 Americans die each flu season.
- Dec. 3, 2012: U.S. flu season starts early, could be bad, CDC says
- Sept. 24, 2012: Metro Health Department opens annual fast track flu clinic
- August 22, 2012: Nashville airport takes steps to keep travelers healthy
- August 15, 2012: Flu vaccines stocked, researchers keep eye on new strain