January 3, 2013
The flu season is in full swing and when you compare it to last year, it's a lot different and not in a good way.
Last year, the flu season was just starting to peak toward the beginning of February. This year, we are already into the third week of seeing widespread flu activity in Virginia. That's about ten weeks earlier than last year.
The Center of Disease Control and Prevention's current summary map shows that most of the eastern United States is considered to be in the widespread state of flu season. Being considered widespread means that more than half of the state has seen an outbreak in the flu and are continuing to see an increase in cases.
Once the flu season peaks, there's really no way of knowing when the season will start to calm down. Officials at the Virginia Department of Health say the weather and the number of people that haven't been vaccinated are just a few of the factors that can prolong the season.
They also say it's not too late to get your flu shot even if you've already had the flu.
Stuart Hutter, Thomas Jefferson Health District Epidemiologist for the Virginia Department of Health, said, "If you've had the flu, yes, you can get it again. There are several subtypes beyond type A and type B. There are other types of A that you could be exposed to and become ill again in the same flu season."
Hutter also said, "Just make sure you get your flu shot. If you do get sick make sure you staying home until you feel better, cover your cough, wash your hands. Those are some of the basic things that kind of help stop the spread of influenza."
So far this year there haven't been any reported influenza deaths in Virginia but across the United States there have been 16 pediatric flu deaths.