2 child flu deaths reported in East Tennessee, 3 statewide

There were 203 positive flu tests last week from private labs: 159 influenza A, and 43 influenza B; 1 was unsubtypeable.

With so few healthy employees, Matuska said the hospital diverted ambulances for 16 hours on Tuesday and 7.5 hours on Wednesday.

About 6.8 percent of patients visiting emergency rooms last week were there for ILI.

All three of the recent patients lived in Dallas.

In order to prevent the spread of the flu, the health department says to wash your hands thoroughly or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and stay home if you're sick. There were 79 confirmed cases of flu-associated hospitalizations during that week. Previous year at this time, there were 834 confirmed cases of the flu. The total compares to 5 at this time last season.

"While seasonal increases in flu activity are expected, we remind people that if they have a non-emergency health concern they have many options in the community to help them avoid a trip to the emergency department to ensure emergency services are available for those who need them", Fraser Health's Dr. Martin Lavoie said in a media release.

Officials added they typical see 2 to 3 flu-related each flu season and have seen as many as 15 during the 2009 pandemic. "We had a confirmed case in August a year ago". All the people who died, for whom there is information available, had underlying medical conditions.

Flu activity increased to "high" during the week of December 24-30, the fourth straight week it had increased, according to the county board of health's latest influenza report.

"Nobody wants to be the dreaded spreader, so we should all get vaccinated to protect ourselves and to make our surroundings as flu free as possible", says infectious disease specialist Dr. William Schaffner with Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Unusual had some other advice. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

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