KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — University of Tennessee Medical Center has reported four flu deaths so far this season.
Flu activity has been high in Tennessee for weeks.
According to UT Medical Center's weekly flu report issued on Jan. 22, so far this month -- 47 people have been diagnosed with Flu A and 16 with Flu B.
The CDC said more than 4,800 people have died nationwide, including 32 children. This includes one child in East Tennessee and another in Middle Tennessee.
East Tennessee Children's Hospital reported on Jan. 21 that 78 children were diagnosed with Flu A and 58 were diagnosed with Flu B last week.
So far, The Tennessee State Department of Health said six pediatric patients had died from the flu, four of those deaths were in East Tennessee.
Dr. Mark Rasnake, an infectious disease physician at UT Medical Center, said this flu season is worse than last year.
“This flu season is similar to the flu season we had a couple years ago where there's kind of more patients than average," Rasnake added. "We're not seeing the tremendous numbers that we saw during a really bad year two years ago, but it's definitely been a significant flu season.”
Experts say the best way to avoid getting the flu is by getting the flu shot and washing your hands often. They say you should wash them long enough to kill the virus. It helps to sing the entire alphabet song while you scrub, before rinsing your hands with hot water.
If you're worried this won't be enough to keep you from getting sick, there are more things you can try.
One option is elderberry syrup. Doctors say elderberries have been used for centuries for colds, flu and skin issues.
It comes in a lot of different products and can be found at most health stores.
In public, you should be aware of items that could harbor the flu virus.
Dr. Rasnake said your cell phone should be cleaned at least once a day to get rid of the germs. He also explained things like pharmacy kiosks, airport touch screens and airport security bins tend to be big bacteria holders.
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