Doctors are recommending that people get flu vaccinations before spending time with family and friends during the Thanksgiving holidays because the virus is already circulating in surrounding states and cases have been documented in Tennessee.
Dr. Brad Hoover, an emergency room physician at TriStar Summit Medical Center, said a patient was diagnosed with a type B influenza on Wednesday afternoon. While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported sporadic activity in Tennessee, the flu had already established a regional presence in Alabama by early November. Local pockets of illnesses were reported in Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi and Georgia.
Hoover said he hopes people will get flu vaccines before they travel for the holidays.
"It's still a golden time to get it," he said. "I've been here 15 years. I've noticed that when it's going to be a bad flu season, Thanksgiving is when it is going to hit. We will see flu after flu after flu. It is usually that weekend."
The type B strains of the virus typically have symptoms less severe than the type A strains, he said.
For the week of Nov. 3-9, a total of 38 influenza-like illnesses had been reported by the Tennessee Department of Health.