Flu, respiratory illnesses on the rise in Roanoke

Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 1:02 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The Roanoke City Alleghany Health Districts is monitoring what it says are unseasonably high rates in influenza and respiratory illness.

During her virtual public health updated Tuesday, Dr. Cynthia Morrow said while COVID cases remain relatively stable, the rate of flu is rising. While it’s not a reportable disease like COVID-19, using syndromic surveillance as well as state and national data, Dr. Morrow says public health leaders are paying attention.

The level of flu activity doctors are seeing now, Dr. Morrow said, is more in line with what we would see at the season’s peak around January and February. While an early peak could mean a tapering off and plateau, Morrow said there could be another peak in the season with a different strain of the flu virus.

Dr. Morrow said it was too early to tell the effectiveness of the vaccine and get an overall picture of the uptake of the shot. But, at lease for flu shot clinics at the RCAHD, Morrow said it appeared as though interest in a flu shot is lower this year than it has been in the past. She encouraged people to consider getting a vaccine.

As for RSV, Dr. Morrow said it’s also not a reportable disease, but that outbreaks of infectious diseases are reportable. Doctors are especially concerned about RSV in children under two, particularly premature babies.

She encourages families to keep an eye out for symptoms such as shortness of breath and irritability.

Dr. Morrow emphasized families should not allow sick children to go to daycare or school, and adults should stay away from work while sick to keep from getting others sick.

As for the Hepatitis A outbreak in Roanoke City, Dr. Morrow said in the last month just one additional case was reported, bringing the 2022 total to 88.