Flu on the rise in East Tennessee

Published: Jan. 4, 2017 at 6:08 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Temperatures go down. The number of sicknesses goes up. It's a frustrating cycle. It's one we see this time of year, every year.

Doctors say they're seeing more cases of those dealing with flu-like symptoms. One area doctor doesn't believe that trend will go down anytime soon.

"The week of Christmas, if you look at the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) flu map, there were intermittent local cases in East Tennessee. If you look this week, there are more prevalent regional cases," Dr. Michael Rothwell of Well Key Urgent Care said Wednesday.

With colder temperatures now here, the flu virus lives longer. That's the problem. Dr. Rothwell says inanimate objects like door knobs, counter tops, light switches, telephones, anything we touch, that's getting touched often by others, is a good place to contract the virus.

"It's important to wash your hands, but when you do, use warm water. Use hand sanitizer frequently," Dr. Rothwell recommends.

And when you cough, Dr. Rothwell says don't cough into your hands. Cough into your elbow, this way you aren't spreading possibly viruses when you touch something with your hands.

If you're tending to someone with the flu, be proactive says Dr. Rothwell.

"Take prophylactic Tamiflu or antiviral agent. This will help prevent the flu if you're living in close proximity with someone with the disease."

The best medicine to help flu prevention? Simply get a flu shot Dr. Rothwell says. He says it has been extremely effective this season, and it's not too late to get one. Once you do get a flu shot, Dr. Rothwell says it takes two weeks for the shot to be effective.

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