Pediatrician explains what's going around as local schools close due to illness

(WSMV file photo)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee health officials say three children have died from the flu.

Department of Health spokesman Bill Christian told media that two deaths were recorded in East Tennessee and one was recorded in Middle Tennessee. He says the state typically sees two to three pediatric flu deaths each flu season, though 15 were recorded in 2009. Christian said flu activity in Tennessee is widespread and officials are urging everyone over 6 months old to get a shot.

Physicians in multiple locations have reported an increase of patients presenting flu-like symptoms since the season began.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, says there's been "a striking increase" in Middle Tennessee of patients hospitalized due to severe symptoms. He said things will likely get worse before improving.

Flu activity in the U.S. usually peaks around February.Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.