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The Great Smoky Mountain Journal

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Posted: Monday, December 31, 2018 04:29 PM

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STATE: Pregnant Tennessee Woman Becomes Fourth Victim Of Flu Across State; Three Children Among Other Fatalities

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A representative from the Tennessee Department of Health reported Monday evening a pregnant woman has died in association with seasonal influenza. This is the fourth report of death associated with the flu in the 2017-2018 season, after three children also died from the illness.

Bill Christian with the Department of Health said the department could not provide any additional information about any of the cases or patients, but that the department expressed "our deepest condolences to these families."

Christian said children and pregnant women are among the groups of people at highest risk for complications from the seasonal flu.

"Flu activity is now widespread across Tennessee and the U.S., and we urge anyone over the age of six months old who has not yet had a flu vaccination this flu season to get one now," Christian said.

Here are best health habits that could help to prevent the flu:

Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer
Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
Stay home if you are sick

The Knox County Health Department encouraged residents to follow basic precautions to slow the spread of the flu virus and stay healthy.

"Many area hospitals are reporting a sharp increase in traffic in their emergency departments due to flu, respiratory illness and other conditions," KCHD Director Dr. Martha Buchanan said. "First and foremost, it's important for the public to know it's not too late to get a flu vaccine if they haven't already this season. It's also important that our community have information on both how to avoid infection as well as what to do if they get the flu, including when to go to the emergency room."

KCHD said they would be providing free flu vaccinations while supplies last at all three locations: the main location, 140 Dameron Avenue, West Clinic, 1028 Old Cedar Bluff Rd., and Teague Clinic, 405 Dante Rd. Appointments can be made by calling 865-215-5070. Clinics are open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Free flu vaccinations only apply to the standard flu shot, not the high-dose version recommended for those over 65 years old.

The KCHD released the following flu guidelines:
If someone is mildly ill with flu symptoms, he or she should not go to the emergency room. Hospital emergency departments should be reserved for those who are severely ill or injured.

The following mild flu symptoms usually do not require treatment at an emergency room: runny nose or nasal stuffiness, low-grade fever for less than three days, mild headache, body aches, or stomach upset. Instead of visiting the emergency room, call your health care provider or seek care at a walk-in clinic.

Limit visits to friends and relatives in the hospital. Postpone visits to the hospital to protect patients, staff and yourself from the flu. If you must visit, check with the hospital first to see if any visitor restrictions have been established.