Flu Claims Life of Two in Middle Tennessee
by Janet Kim
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Flu season is underway, and it's proving to be a deadly one. At least three people have died in Middle Tennessee from the start of the flu season. Two of the deaths occurred within the last several days in Putnam County.
The Upper Cumberland Region is one of the three regions the state is reporting the highest number of flu cases. January and February are typically Tennessee's busiest months for flu and that has Cookeville Regional Medical Center taking notice and taking action.
Inside Cookeville Regional Medical Center, the flu is keeping the ICU busy.
"I'm concerned because nationwide it's not a huge flu season yet, but every region is seeing marked increases, and we're certainly seeing that here," said Dr. Mark Pierce, the infectious disease specialist with Cookeville Regional Medical Center.
In just the last several days, Cookeville Regional has lost two patients to Influenza A, possibly H1N1. The first victim was a 39-year old in late December.
"Basically when the patient came in, they quickly had respiratory failure and placed on a respiratory ventilator and died within three days," said Pierce.
The most recent death over the weekend was a 36-year old.
"It's an incredible tragedy when you lose patients like that at that age especially," said Pierce.
It's why Cookeville Regional Medical Center is taking extreme measures by prohibiting hospital visitors under the age of 16 and asking guests to sanitize and wear masks before entering certain areas.
Carl Bullis is seeing the severity of the situation firsthand, with a relative in the hospital fighting the flu and a child at home doing the same.
"You maybe hear of it in other places, but to see it this close to home, you see how bad it is," said Bullis. "Now we found out this morning that our son, who's 8, he's been diagnosed with flu and tested positive. At our house now, we're on Tamiflu and they're treating all of us for flu."
Health professionals say it isn't too late to get vaccinated to prevent the flu.
The state health department is urging anyone who hasn't done so, to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible.