Experts say flu is bigger threat to Middle Tennesseans than Coronavirus

Tenn. Tech student tests negative for the virus
Posted at 9:01 PM, Jan 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-24 23:32:33-05

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — News of a Tennessee Tech student being tested for the Coronovirus has concerned the community of Cookeville. Officials are taking the deadly virus seriously, but, doctors warn that the flu is still the biggest threat to Middle Tennesseans' health.

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a respiratory illness that was first identified in China. Dozens of people in China have died from the illness.

There are just two confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, but more than 60 people have been tested for the illness, including a Tennessee Tech University student. Health officials announced Friday night the student tested negative for the virus.

"Because of his recent travel history and his mild symptoms, we checked the boxes for starting the protocol for testing," Tennessee Tech spokeswoman Karen Lykins said.

But while local, state and federal agents wait for those test results, experts warn that the flu is a bigger threat.

"In comparison to flu, this coronavirus at the end of this season is a little blip on the horizon. Flu is much more of concern to us as regards real illness," Vanderbilt University Medical Center infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner said. "There's another respiratory virus that's out there - not only in Tennessee - but across the whole country that's going to put many thousands of people into the hospital and I'm afraid cause thousands of deaths. That old friend is the influenza virus. Now influenza is so familiar to us, it breeds, if not contempt at least nonchalance. But that's the one that's more hazardous."

Schaffner said the best way to fight the flu, and in turn the coronavirus, is good hygiene.

"Now it's important that we pay attention to hand hygiene, just as your mother said, wash your hands frequently soap and water," Schaffner said.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: Everything you need to know