Flu Deaths Continue To Climb In Tennessee
by Janet Kim
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - The number of flu deaths continue to rise in the mid-state and has now claimed the life of a 55-year old in Putnam County.
In Davidson and its surrounding counties, flu has claimed the life of 14 people. At Cookeville Regional Medical Center in Putnam County, which provides care for much of the Upper Cumberland Region, three people have now died. This particular flu isn't just affecting children and the elderly, but strong adults.
If anyone understands the power of a flu shot, it's Beverly Carmack, an employee of Cookeville Regional Medical Center.
"I work here at the hospital, and I see the need for that," Carmack. "With me working here, I can bring home germs and stuff. Without prevention, you could bring it home to your family."
The flu has now claimed the life of three people at this hospital alone.
"We've been seeing cases in younger people, and this patient was in their 50s."
The most recent death was a 55-year old, and at least three other victims throughout the state were in their 30s. Dr. Mark Pierce with Cookeville Regional Medical Center said there could be a reason why H1N1 is hitting this age group particularly hard.
"For one thing, we think that most of the young people probably don't have as much, an innate immunity or pre-existent immunity that they have not been exposed to similar strain before, whereas older people perhaps had," said Dr. Pierce.
While people's immune systems are stepping it up, some could be fighting too hard.
"Sometimes our immune responds vigorously to try and infect the pathogen, but that vigorous response also damages the body," said Dr. Pierce.
So to keep the virus away altogether, Carmack marched her son to the hospital herself, knowing it could be the difference between life or death.
"That's the reason I wanted him to come, because there's a lot going on right now, and I don't want him to get the flu," said Carmack.
Doctors said smokers and those who are obese are more vulnerable when fighting the flu.
As far as hospitalizations go, Davidson and its surrounding counties had 433 due to the flu. Cookeville Regional had 22 hospitalizations with those with confirmed flu, and they all had Influenza Type A.
Some county health departments are continuing to offer free flu shots. Tennessee Department of Health Officials suggest calling your local department to ensure the vaccine is still available.