Flu widespread in Virginia, mixed in Suffolk

Published 10:19 pm Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The flu is widespread in Virginia and much of the United States, and it has had some impacts in Suffolk this flu season as well.

Officials at Sentara Obici Hospital said the flu season began with a few cases in early October, and has only increased since then. They do not believe it has peaked for the season.

“We have seen quite a bit of flu this year, as we have in the past, but this year it seems to be a little bit worse, in my opinion, than last year’s,” said Lauren Lawless, Sentara Obici emergency department manager.

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Lawless said the hospital has seen a combination of influenza A and B patients.

However, at Bon Secours Health Center at Harbour View, an official there said they believe flu season has already reached its high point.

“Volumes at the Harbour View emergency department peaked around seven to eight weeks ago,” said Jenna Green, public relations and communications specialist with Bon Secours Mercy Health. “Volumes are becoming lighter, but we are still seeing influenza-like illnesses.”

During the week ending Jan. 18, the Virginia Department of Health reported that 5.7 percent of all emergency department and urgent care center visits were for influenza-like illnesses. Statewide, there were 449 positive reports of flu statewide, and VDH has received reports of 442 pneumonia and influenza-associated deaths during this flu season, though none of those have been children.

Throughout the 2019-2020 flu season, there have been 3,714 cases statewide, with 31 percent of those influenza A and 69 percent influenza B.

Sentara Obici president Coleen Santa Ana stressed, also, that it has seen no cases of the Coronavirus, which has spread from Wuhan in China and has killed dozens of people in that country.

In Virginia, there were three suspected cases, but two of those the Virginia Department of Health has determined not to be the Coronavirus, and the third case is awaiting test results.

Even with this year’s flu vaccine not appearing to work as well against the more predominant influenza B strain, hospital officials still advise getting the flu shot, saying it can still help, and will help shorten the duration and intensity of illness for anyone coming down with the flu.