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Doctor says bad weather averted Tenn. flu 'disaster'


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  This year’s flu season is one of the worst in years, but the current president of the Tennessee Medical Association says it could be worse.

Nita Shumaker is a Chattanooga Pediatrician and leads the TMA. She says the snow, ice and cold Tennessee saw middle of the month likely kept this year’s flu season from getting even worse.

“It was set to be just a disaster until we had the cold weather that kept kids out of school and away from each other a little bit. So now we’re still seeing it. We’ve probably seen three this morning.”

The Centers for Disease Control reports that some 30 children have already died of the flu this season. Four of those deaths were here in Tennessee. Dr. Shumaker says when your child’s fever begins to climb, it’s time to react.

“102 or 103 (fever), shaking chills, looks ill…it’s time to go in. It’s time to get tested.”

Shumaker says it still isn’t too late to get that flu shot. Experts say this year’s influenza could still be a couple of weeks from hitting its peak.

She also stresses that while there’s no cure for influenza, there are medications that will shorten the severity and length of the illness, but you have to act fast.

“There is a brief window, a 48 hour window, from the time of onset of symptoms that the anti-flu medications actually help. They help with symptoms and they shorten the course.”

Would you like to visit the CDC flu page for more information?