Deadly Flu Arrives In Middle Tennessee

NASHVILLE, TN — A deadly strain of the flu already widespread in several nearby states is making headway in Middle Tennessee.

The H3N2 virus that spread out of East and Southeast Asia into Australia and New Zealand has followed the typical seasonal flu pathway and is now into North America. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention said the virus is already widespread in the Tennessee border states of Virginia, Georgia, Mississippi, and Arkansas, along with Louisiana and Oklahoma. The latest CDC update puts three other Tennessee border states – Kentucky, Missouri and Alabama – in the "regional outbreak" classification. For now, the Volunteer State is one level lower – "local cases" – but doctors say the virus is closing in.

"We anticipate a rather heavy flu season that will probably disproportionately affect older persons. That’s what this strain does," Vanderbilt University Medical Center infectious disease specialist Dr. William Schaffner told WKRN.

Schaffner said he anticipates a stronger-than-usual flu season with the strain disproportionately affecting people 65 and older.

Schaffner said, of course, the obvious step everyone can take is getting the flu vaccine, which is he told the station is "good" this year, but is likely to be more effective in young people, though even if it is not 100 percent preventative will make the infection milder.

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