CDC, doctors expect mild flu season as cases are low

Posted at 5:38 PM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 19:20:54-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee and the entire country could be in for a mild flu season, according to estimates from local health experts and the CDC.

Reported doctors visits for flu-like illnesses are lower than the typical national average, according to the CDC. Only 75 confirmed cases were reported to the CDC last week. Just over 650 cases have been reported nationwide since the end of September, the flu season's usual start. There's been nearly 287,000 tests for the flu in that same time period.

Dr. David Aronoff, Infectious Disease Expert for Vanderbilt University, said he's not surprised numbers are low this year.

"We got some indications from the southern hemisphere that flu season might not be as bad this year as it has in recent years," said Dr. Aronoff.

Countries such as Australia experience the flu season before North America. Dr. Aronoff said he's been tracking the flu there, and it has been mild.

Also, he believes methods to combat the spread of COVID-19 also have an impact on the spread of the flu.

"We've seen good uptake of influenza vaccination, particularly among adults, which I think is particularly important," said Aronoff. "We're also seeing lower cases of influenza being diagnosed when we compare where we are in comparison this year to where we are from years' past. That probably is not just a reflection of getting vaccine from influenza, but also keeping our distance. Wearing face masks, keeping our hands clean. All of the things that increase the likelihood that influenza doesn't get transmitted from one person to another."

Vanderbilt is testing COVID patients for the flu as well, but there's only been a couple of cases so far.

Dr. Aronoff is encouraging people to get tested for the flu as well as COVID to make sure they know which virus they could be sick with.