Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

December 28, 2013

Cases of flu increase in Va., W.Va.

BLUEFIELD — West Virginia and Virginia residents are being encouraged to get influenza inoculations as both states see increasing numbers of influenza cases.

Virginia Health Department officials told the Associated Press that the number of flu cases in their state has risen to widespread activity levels. In 2012, the flu season sent approximately 381,000 to the hospital statewide. This was the highest rate since 2005. A contributing factor was that the flu vaccine was only 51 percent effective overall.

The Centers for Disease Control published a map Thursday outlining flu activity across the United States. Virginia was listed as having widespread influenza activity.

In Virginia, individual cases of influenza are not a reportable condition to the health department, said Paige Lucas, epidemiologist for the Cumberland Plateau Health District. The state has a reporting system similar to that of the CDC.

“We feed the information we get locally to our state level and they determine a state level of activity,” Lucas said.

In neighboring West Virginia, the CDC has listed the state as having sporadic flu activity. Mercer County, located on the Virginia border, is seeing increasing numbers of flu cases. Local numbers were not available, but one local health care professional said more instances of the flu are being seen.

“It was a slow start to the season,” said Dr. Kathy Wides, public health officer for Mercer County. “And now it’s making up the difference. I saw 12 cases in Princeton on my last shift, me and a nurse practitioner. It might be a bad season, and it’s not too late to get your flu shot.”

The CDC advises that anyone six months and older who has not gotten a flu vaccine yet this season should get one.

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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