Flu cases on the rise in West Virginia following Thanksgiving

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — There’s been an increase in flu cases across West Virginia since the Thanksgiving holiday, according to the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

Flu cases accounted for 8.14 percent of emergency department and urgent care visits for the week of Thanksgiving, which is up from 6 percent for the week prior.

Shannon McBee, state epidemiologist with the DHHR, told MetroNews people are getting sick earlier in the season.

“This is the earliest we’ve seen this much flu activity in the past six years. We’re seeing approximately 20 percent positivity for influenza,” she said.

Much of that has to do with an immunity gap amid the COVID-19 pandemic, McBee said.

“Less people have been vaccinated against flu in recent years due to the pandemic and people have been taking precautions due to the pandemic, so they haven’t been exposed to a lot of flu and seasonal respiratory conditions,” she explained.

Flu symptoms include high fever, sore throat and cough.

McBee is encouraging people to get both their flu and COVID-19 vaccines to protect themselves from being hospitalized. She also urges people to keep their hands clean, especially while holiday shopping in public.

“Have hand sanitizer readily available when you’re in public settings out shopping where you’re frequently touching objects that a lot of folks might be touching such as shopping baskets and Christmas gifts,” McBee said.

The CDC reports 53,000 flu-related hospitalizations and nearly 3,000 deaths nationwide since the start of October, the highest rate in more than 10 years for this time of year.

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