NRHD says flu cases nearing first peak in NRV

Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 8:05 PM EST
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CHRISTIANSBUG, Va. (WDBJ) - The New River Health District says there are usually two peaks of flu, during the fall and winter.

The health district’s models suggest the first seasonal peak is near.

“Flu is early this year,” NRHD Epidemiologist Jason Deese said. “There’s nothing special about the flu this year, as far as the strain. It just happens to be early.”

He says the flu is running rampant in the New River Valley, which is a trend seen around the state.

“The activity that we’re seeing actually is so unusual that it even exceeds pre-pandemic expectations for what we would expect to see this time of year, so it certainly is concerning,” Virginia Department of Health Respiratory Disease Coordinator Lisa Sallot said.

VDH is also concerned about the timing of this year’s flu.

“We’re expecting folks to travel a lot,” Sallot said. “We’re expecting students to travel home from school, and then of course travel back and potentially bring their respiratory viruses with them, so the amount of activity that’s out there is a little bit worrying for transmission in the coming weeks.”

High amounts of flu cases among staff and students are causing some school districts to close Tuesday, including Grayson County Public Schools and Pulaski County Public Schools.

“There were a couple of schools this morning that the absence rate was approaching 20%,” PCPS Assistant Superintendent Chris Stafford said.

Health officials say there are ways you can keep yourself safe, but the most effective way is by getting the flu shot.

“Covering your cough, staying home when you’re sick, washing your hands thoroughly and masking when appropriate, are all measures that can prevent not just transmission of COVID-19, but also influenza, RSV and other respiratory viruses that may be circulating,” Sallot said.