It’s that time of year you might feel under the weather. Across the country, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the flu virus is spreading fast this year and it could be more severe than previous years.
Locally, Sharon Goforth at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department said influenza numbers are right on track for where they typically see this time of year.
"High fevers, lots of body aches, chills,” Goforth described.
Flu-like symptoms can happen overnight and this year the CDC said once again, this year H3N2 is the dominant strain that can produce more severe illnesses.
"The H3N2 that we saw last year is included in this year's vaccine is the one that we saw the most problem with last year,” she said.
Four states currently have widespread flu activity, with one of those states being Georgia. Last winter there was none at this time. It's why health officials don't want people here in the Tennessee Valley to let their guard down.
"I don't want anybody to fall into the false sense of security that just because we aren't seeing large numbers that they really don't need to worry about the flu because they do,” Goforth said.
It's why the health department wants families to be vaccinated. But just how effective are this year's flu shots? In an article published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, health experts said it could only be 10% effective because the virus can find new ways to attack your immune system.
"They will start to change just enough to kind of get around the fact that person has been vaccinated and still potentially be able to infect people in that community,” Goforth explained.
The latest numbers show seven thousand cases in the United States so far, that’s double the amount compared to this time last year and it could be a sign of what's to come here locally.
It’s still early in the flu season, in the Southeast, the peak hits in late January or early February.