Flu Outbreak May Continue Here in Virginia A Little Longer

Jan 17, 2018

This week, the Centers for Disease Control suggested a national outbreak of flu may have peaked, but here experts say that might not be the case.

The Virginia Department of Public Health doesn’t track individual cases of influenza, but it does look for other signs to determine the level of infection and how widespread it might be. Diane Woolard is an epidemiologist with the state.

“A lot of those outbreaks are in assisted living and nursing homes, potentially schools and daycares. We keep track of visits to emergency departments and urgent care centers and we look at lab results.”

And from what she’s seeing, Virginia is not done with influenza just yet.

“I expect we’re going to stay up for several more weeks at the widespread flu activity level.”

A current look at "influenza-like illnesses" tracked across the country.
Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

That said, Woolard has some advice.

“If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet this year, even though it’s here now, it’s not too late to get it.  Even if it doesn’t prevent the disease, it can prevent some complications from the disease.”

And that’s important, because the CDC says tens of thousands die from flu and its most serious complication – pneumonia.  If you’re already sick, Woolard says it’s worth seeing a doctor who can prescribe an anti-viral medication to shorten the duration and severity of the disease, and she adds, if you’ve got fever, body aches, a sore throat and cough, please stay home.