East TN medical clinics see increase in flu patients

12:02 AM, Dec 5, 2012   |    comments
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Some East Tennessee medical clinics said they are seeing more patients complaining of flu-like symptoms.

The Summit Express Clinic in Fountain City receives more than 40 patients a day.  Nurse practitioners Paromita Yunsan and Sarah LeVan said about 40 percent of those people claim they have flu-like symptoms.

"We are seeing a lot of people who have not been vaccinated," Yunsan said.

LeVan said that is something she has noticed as well.

"Some people don't like to get vaccinated because they think in years' past they've had a reaction or the shot has actually made them sick," she said.

For more information on getting a flu shot, call the Knox County Health Department at 865-215-5000 or click here.

Dr. Bob Overholt of the Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Center said it's too early to specifically pinpoint how bad the flu season will be here in East Tennessee. However, he did say this year's particular flu strain, H3N2, could be particularly hard on the people who receive it.

"This may be one of those years where it is one of the bad flu epidemics," he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the last time the flu started this early, was in 2003.

The CDC says people at high risk for developing flu-related complications fall under the following categories:

  • Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
  • Adults 65 years of age and older
  • Pregnant women
  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives

And, people who have the following medical conditions:

  • Asthma
  • Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions [including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability (mental retardation), moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury].
  • Chronic lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and cystic fibrosis)
  • Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease)
  • Blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease)
  • Endocrine disorders (such as diabetes mellitus)
  • Kidney disorders
  • Liver disorders
  • Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders)
  • Weakened immune system due to disease or medication (such as people with HIV or AIDS, or cancer, or those on chronic steroids)
  • People younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
  • People who are morbidly obese (Body Mass Index, or BMI, of 40 or greater)

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