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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Influenza cannot be cured, but its victims can ease their discomfort, the associate dean of nursing at the University of Tennessee-Memphis said Wednesday.

 “The major symptoms are fever and generalized body aches, sometimes accompanied by cough, runny nose and congestion,” said Dr. Peggy Tagg, a family nurse practitioner.

 “Because it’s a virus, there’s not a medication that can cure the flu. But there are some medications that can alleviate the severity of the symptoms,” she said.

 Tagg said elderly people, teachers, day care workers, health care providers and people with chronic illnesses should get flu shots annually.

 People with asthma, heart or lung disease are “major candidates for flu shots because flu can lead to pneumonia,” Tagg said.

 “Flu generally hits Tennessee (hardest) in January and February. Since it takes about two to four weeks for a flu shot to take effect, it’s not too late to get one.”

 Flu victims should avoid exposing others during the first 48 hours after the onset of the illness, drink plenty of fluids, and take Tylenol for fever, Tagg said.

 “If the symptoms persist more than five days or if you have a chronic cough and fever continues after three days, you definitely need to see your health care provider,” Tagg said.

 The flu season officially began Oct. 1 and already more than 70 cases have been reported in Tennessee, 24 of them last week. Hamblen County in East Tennessee has had 18 cases, Carroll County in West Tennessee, 12.

 Contact: Dr. Peggy Tagg (901-448-7464)