Flu continues to spread, more states upgraded to 'widespread' category

(WCYB/Caleb Perhne)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has upgraded all but three states to the “widespread” flu category.

Both Elizabethton and Washington County, Tennessee schools closed Friday, citing too many teachers out with the flu.

In most school systems in our region, 10 percent of students are absent up from the normal 6 percent. Carter County schools are watching closely. They announced 12 percent of students were absent Thursday.

Schools cleaned all surfaces during the break, but the CDC said it's not very effective at stopping the spread of flu since the virus only lives two to eight hours outside the body. Local health officials still suggest extra cleaning as long as you check the label.

"Different cleaning products require different times to kill viruses,” Leslie Jones with the Northeast Tennessee Regional Health Department said.

The most effective way to prevent the flu is washing your hands and getting your flu shot. The vaccination takes two weeks to take effect, and you can have the flu a full 24 hours before symptoms show.

"Typically flu is a very sudden onset of fever, cough, runny nose, just feeling really bad, general aches,” Ballad Health’s Jamie Swift said.

If you do get sick, make sure you stay home. The virus is spread through the air.

"When they sneeze, when they cough, they're spreading those particles,” Jones said. “That's why we stress to cough and sneeze into your sleeve."

Wednesday night, the Mountain Home Veterans Affairs hospital called in five extra nurses as beds completely filled up.

Ballad Health has restricted visitation at hospitals.

"We don't them coming in and spreading the disease,” Swift said. “but we also don't want them to come in as a visitor, be exposed to someone in a waiting room and end up sick."

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