ALBEMARLE COUNTY, V.A. (WVIR) - The flu is beginning to rear its ugly head in central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now labels the state as having widespread flu activity.
Those at the Charlottesville - Albemarle Health Department say to not panic, however, the reality is that flu season is here. It's a dangerous virus and the number of cases is only set to increase.
"Which just means we have several regions that have exceeded the threshold for people reporting to physicians’ offices, urgent care, hospitals with influenza-like illnesses,” Senior Policy Analyst Ryan McKay said.
McKay is part of a team keeping a close eye on the numbers in the Thomas Jefferson Health District. He says the region's flu activity is considered low, but don't let your guard down. "Locally we don't have any outbreaks we're investigating at this point but it's flu season. It's December. It's out there."
As of the end of November, the state health department logged 90 positive flu tests on patients. On average in the state, more than 3% of people are showing up to the doctor with flu-like symptoms.
“Do not panic. This is what we see every year. We use the terminology to make different decisions about when we maybe get more information out, increase access to the flu vaccine, but it’s nothing to be concerned about,” McKay said.
Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital is reporting an uptick in cases over the past two weeks with a total of 18 cases. UVA says it had four confirmed cases as of last week.
"Between November and April - it's flu season and we should expect or anticipate peak seasons to come at any point during that time,” McKay said.
The best advice from the experts is to get that flu shot. If not, just keep washing your hands.
A free flu vaccine clinic is happening Wednesday at the Louisa County Health Department from 12:00 p.m. until 6 p.m.