MEMPHIS, Tenn (localmemphis.com) - The Tennessee Department of Health is seeing increased reports of flu cases and other respiratory illnesses across the state and is urging Tennesseans to take measures to slow the spread of the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and TDH recommend a yearly flu vaccine for everyone aged six months and older. It is not too late to benefit from a flu shot this season.
According to the TDH, people can be sick with the flu and transmit it up to 24 hours before they feel symptoms.
TDH also strongly encourages taking precautions to prevent infection with the flu, such as avoiding contact with sick people. People who are sick should stay home for at least 24 hours after symptoms have resolved to protect others and prevent spreading the disease. This should include avoiding going to work, school and other public places while ill, and limiting visits to people in nursing homes or hospitals.
TDH also recommends people who are sick or have sick people in their households, such as small children be particularly careful when considering visiting friends or loved ones in hospitals, long-term care facilities and other places where sick and vulnerable people live or receive care.
To protect your family and others, always use "respiratory etiquette” such as coughing into your elbow or a tissue rather than your hands, and wash hands frequently with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub. Routine cleaning and disinfection in the home and workplace are also important to reduce flu risks.
Infants, the elderly and people with certain medical conditions are at highest risk of getting severe complications from the flu. People in these groups should consult a health care provider if they suspect infection with the flu and should begin antiviral medications if recommended by their doctor as soon as possible. However, few people with the flu or other respiratory illnesses need to go to an emergency room. TDH recommends that people who are not severely ill call their health care provider first to talk about whether they need to be seen, and if so, where would be most appropriate place to go.