SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County is leading the way in the number of flu-like illnesses statewide.
Newly released data shows during the last week of December more than 2,800 cases of flu-like illnesses were reported.
Health experts say the flu season started early this year -- around the second week of December. Since then, they’ve seen a drastic increase in cases across the Mid-South.
Newly released data from the Shelby County Health Department shows more than 11,800 emergency department visits for flu-like illnesses from Oct.1, 2019 through Jan. 2, 2020.
“Looking back on the past seasons that we’ve had we’ve seen that this one started several weeks earlier," said Infection Prevention Medical Director Dr. Nicholas Hysmith.
Health experts say the flu season started early this year and over the last two weeks or so they’ve seen a spike in cases. Data shows a spike around the middle of December then a drop-off, but experts say it’s on the rise again.
“We saw a pretty drastic increase mid-December, the week before Christmas and the week of Christmas, specifically and then we’ve seen it drastically rise since then," said Hysmith.
Le Bonheur Children's Hospital saw about 350 cases of flu-like illnesses in the month of December alone -- so far in 2020, the hospital has seen more than 100.
According to the health department, when you compare Shelby County to other parts of the state it has the highest number of patients visiting clinics and reporting flu-like symptoms -- 20.5 percent for the week of Dec. 22 through Dec. 28 compared to the 14.8 percent statewide.
Health experts say be on the lookout for symptoms that include: fever, cough, headache, body aches and chills -- they suggest getting the vaccine to help protect you from getting sick.
Health experts say the vaccine is 40-60 percent effective this year -- compared to last year’s 29 percent.
The CDC will give final estimates once effective later this year.