Flu season hits parts of Mid-South hard

By Jessica Holley

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) – This year’s flu season–a season some medical experts say comes in second to the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918–is still hitting Americans hard.

There’s still more than a month until the end of flu season, and while most areas are seeing flu numbers come to a trickle, the virus still run rampant in half of the country.

Doctors across the country call this flu season one of the worst they’ve seen over the past few years.

The virus crippled America–causing more than 24,000 hospitalizations.

“This was a very virulent season. And often times this is cyclic. The last couple of years we’ve had a very mild season,” Dr. Mark Castellaw, with Baptist Medical Group, said.

In Tennessee, 10 children and a pregnant woman died from the flu, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. The Centers for Disease Control said more deaths may have occurred from the flu, but states are only required to report flu deaths of people under the age of 18.

Despite a recent spike at Shelby County’s emergency room visits for flu-like illnesses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest data shows Tennessee and Mississippi with minimal to moderate flu activity.

That’s not the case across the Mississippi River. The CDC reports Arkansas is one of 21 states experiencing high activity.

Since the start of flu season nine weeks ago, Arkansas reported 184 flu-related deaths–five of the deaths were children.

“Because of the flu season we’ve had this year, it’s stimulated new research to find out if there are other ways or other types of vaccines that we can use to help prevent what happened,” Castellaw said.

Though the possibility of a new prevention likely won’t be ready for the next round of flu season later this year.

The CDC said as of March 3, more than 230,000 Americans have come down with the flu, but overall flu activity is going down.