Health Department says H1N1 likely to blame for severe flu cases
The flu is sweeping across the Tennessee valley as more and more people become ill.
"The strain that is most prevalent right now is H1N1," said Jennifer King, North Georgia Health District.
King says they believe the H1N1 strain is what is making the cases more severe.
"This year, fortunately it is a part of the flu vaccine for this season," said King. "However, there are many people who have not gotten their flu shots."
So far in Georgia, 20 people have died from the flu; that's double the number of deaths for this time last year. There have been 13 deaths in Tennessee.
"People don't realize just how dangerous the flu can be. They think, oh I'll just get sick and I'll be fine, which is the case for most people, but there are always going to be those few with much worse consequences, and we don't know who those people are going to be," said King.
King tells Channel 3 the trend in ages is changing this year. The two deaths from North Georgia, were middle-aged.
"Normally the people who suffer the worst consequences from the flu are the elderly or very young children," said King. "We are seeing more young to middle aged people having these severe consequences."
We spoke with Memorial Hospital, they tell us they've seen 280 cases of the flu since November 1; 62 in the last two weeks.
Erlanger says they've seen 230 since December 1.
"It's scary, and it's scary for everyone, but the best thing for people to do is simply take their health into their own hands, get their flu shots, making sure they're following good hygiene practices, washing their hands with warm soapy water, covering your sneezes and coughs and taking those tissues and throwing them away," said King.
If you have the flu and your symptoms are getting worse or simply not going away, King advises everyone to contact their doctor.
King says it is not too late to get the flu shot to help prevent getting the virus, she says you can get them at any pharmacy or your local health department.
Flu season can last through February and even into March.