Tennessee is one of five states reporting higher than normal flu activity for this time of year.
"We're seeing flu activity across the state and we're seeing widespread activity," said John Dunn, deputy state epidemiologist for the state health department.
Widespread flu activity isn't something the Tennessee Department of Health is used to seeing in early December, and it's not sure what it could mean for the coming months.
"That is a concern that we might have a longer flu season since it's starting earlier," Dunn said.
But why did flu season start early this year? Brian Todd of Metro Nashville's Public Health department has a theory.
"It is coming a little bit early but actually Thanksgiving came a little earlier," Todd said,
You might ask yourself what a holiday has to do with it. The CDC says the airborne virus can infect a person even from a distance of six feet. Todd says the nature of the holiday creates for more contact with loved ones and with strangers.
"People are traveling at Thanksgiving," Todd said. "They're in airports, they're getting together maybe from different areas of the country."
This year thanksgiving landed on the 22nd, two days before 2011, and a full five days before 2008. Todd says that might explain why families are spreading the virus and bringing it home earlier than before.
No matter the reason, health experts say there are ways to protect yourself and your family
"The CDC recommends everyone gets a flu shot," said, Sabrina York, regional clinical director of Little Clinic.
Little Clinic has locations in 13 Kroger supermarkets in Middle Tennessee. York says this year she's seen a boost in people looking to act...before it's too late.
"We've had a lot of people come in for their flu shots over the last few weeks," York said. "Some people started earlier in the season but the last few days we've had a lot more people."
The CDC says families should be on the lookout for symptoms like fever, headaches, fatigue and muscle aches. And experts say, if you do get the disease, stay home from work and school to keep it from spreading.
- Flu Watch - Your online source for information on how to keep your family healthy during this flu season.
Flu Signs and Symptoms
FLU VS. COMMON COLD
Flu Symptoms (more intense than common cold):
- Body aches
- Extreme tiredness
- Dry cough are more common and intense
- Stuffy/runny nose
- Sore throat
- Fever is rare
- Slight body aches
- Mild fatigue
Source: Centers for Disease Control
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