Upper Cumberland hospitals are reporting slightly fewer cases of influenza and flu-like illnesses to begin 2019.
Stephanie Etter serves as Cookeville Regional Medical Center’s (CRMC) Infection Prevention Manager.
“Overall the numbers are pretty close to what we had last year,” Etter said. “The difference that we are seeing is that more patients are going to urgent care. So not as many are coming to the hospital, which is a good thing that usually indicates people are having fewer complications from the flu.”
CRMC statistics show 107 flu cases have been treated since September through hospital or emergency room visits, while nearly 200 others were treated through urgent care during that same time span.
CRMC has treated at least 21 cases at the hospital and at least 80 others through urgent care since the beginning of 2019.
Etter said the hospital hasn’t noticed any significant increases in the number of children or teens admitted for the flu or flu-like symptoms.
“Flu seasons vary from year to year, but so far, and we’re still not into peak flu season just yet based on our numbers,” Etter said, “but so far we don’t see a huge difference in age or anything like that out of the ordinary.”
Three Upper Cumberland school districts have closed for multiple days due to illness, including Pickett County Schools last week and Overton County Schools this week. Clay County Schools announced Wednesday they would close for the remainder of this week due to illness as well.
Livingston Regional Hospital Infection Prevention Nurse Tammy Thrasher reports 11 cases have been reported in January alone. An additional 12 cases were reported last December and five combined cases between October and November.
Etter said the hospital has taken precautionary measures in an effort to limit or eliminate the spread of the flu virus within its facility.
“One of the things that we’re doing here at the hospital is that we are restricting visitors,” Etter said. “Anyone age 16 and under cannot visit patients and we strongly discourage any children from being at the hospital, and that’s mainly for their protection.”
Etter encourages those who have not yet received their flu shots to do so and help prevent the virus from spreading further. She said the H1N1 virus is currently circulating but is treatable through current flu vaccinations.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports flu cases and flu-like symptoms have decreased nationwide, with Tennessee dropping from high flu activity in 2018 to minimal this year. CDC stats also indicate while many states are still seeing widespread flu activity, Tennessee has improved for 2019 where cases are more localized.