Flu season peaks in WV; not over just yet

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The flu season has peaked in West Virginia, but the state health officer says the season is not over yet.

Dr. Rahul Gupta

Dr. Rahul Gupta, who also serves as the commissioner of the state Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health, told MetroNews Friday the number of people sick with flu has continued to decrease in West Virginia after what’s been one the deadliest seasons in recent years across the country.

“We are starting to see across-the-state declines in the flu season, very similar to what’s happening across the country,” Gupta said.

Out of the 114 pediatric flu deaths in the United States this season, there were two flu-related deaths in West Virginia.

There are still a few weeks left of the season. Gupta is recommending people get vaccinated if they haven’t done so already.

“If you still have not had your flu shot this season, go get one because the flu will stick around for the next several weeks,” he said. “We continue to expect some hospitalizations happen because the flu is still circulating in communities.”

The DHHR also encourages West Virginians to take preventative measures such as washing your hands, covering your cough, drinking plenty of fluids and staying home from work if you’re sick.

According to the most recent Influenza Surveillance Report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the states still experiencing high activity are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming.

West Virginia is experiencing moderate to low levels as of this week, according to the report.

Gupta said the DHHR is monitoring the formulation of next year’s vaccine. He said it’s too early to tell what kind of flu season is expected in 2018-2019.

“The only thing that’s predictable about a flu season at the beginning is it’s unpredictability,” Gupta said. “We expect to have obviously changes to the vaccine occur for next year that will hopefully take into account this season’s circulating strains.”

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