The number of influenza-like illnesses treated at Erlanger is three times higher than last year’s figures, officials reported.
In the last three months, Erlanger has reported 177 cases to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department. During the same time period the last two flu seasons, 55 cases were reported by Erlanger in 2016 and 50 cases in 2015.
“Flu season doesn’t normally peak until January/February. Therefore, it’s important to take precautions such as getting the vaccine, washing your hands, and avoiding others if you suspect you have flu-like symptoms,” said Dr. Shavonda Thomas, internal medicine physician with Erlanger’s Community Health Centers. “Most individuals are strong enough to fight off the illness with supportive care such as adequate rest, fluids, and acetaminophen/ibuprofen. If you feel ill, you should also avoid contact with others in order to decrease spread of the virus.”
Higher risk individuals such as children, elderly and pregnant patients who experience worsening symptoms should contact their healthcare provider as soon as possible to determine if an antiviral medication is necessary.
The vaccine is recommended for everyone age six months and older.
“It is not too late to get the flu vaccine if you haven’t already received one this season,” said Dr. Thomas. “It can take approximately two weeks after vaccination for it to offer protection. Additionally, getting the vaccine is helpful because it may reduce the severity or duration of flu symptoms.”