Flu season begins as government shutdown holds up CDC - Mid-South News, Weather, Traffic and Sports | FOX13

Flu season begins as government shutdown holds up CDC

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Patients are already starting to trickle into local doctors' offices and hospitals with the flu. It's happening nationally, as well, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention isn't there to monitor them.

That is because the government shutdown caused a lapse in their funding and, therefore, the CDC cannot conduct their flu reports.

While Le Bonheur Children's Hospital has its own Virology Research Lab to track flu cases it sees, Dr. Jon McCullers said the lack of the CDC's data is still a problem.

"Even when you think you know what's going on with flu, it'll often change up a little bit. It's really a very changeable virus; it can mutate and we can have a new strain come out as an outbreak at any moment," said McCullers.

MORE: Viral Identifications from Le Bonheur Children's Clinical Virology Lab
MORE: First case of flu reported in Mid-South

The Shelby County Health Department tracks influenza-like symptoms through reports from Emergency Room data and other nationwide numbers. It also looks at purchases of over-the-counter drugs and number of people visiting doctors' offices with flu-like symptoms.

Local hospitals are preparing for a severe flu season and want people to get their flu shots. People who especially need a flu shot, according to the CDC, include children between six-months-old and 18-years-old; adults 50-years-old and older; people with asthma, diabetes or chronic lung disease; healthcare professionals; and women who are or will be pregnant during flu season.

The CDC uses the flu data they collect to determine how to create the next season's flu shot; they are now behind on the 2014-15 flu shot as well.

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