Cases of respiratory illness continue to surge across Virginia

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has announced concerns, following a spike in hospital visits from people with flu and respiratory illnesses.

While spikes in these kinds of illnesses are seasonal, the VDH says that this increase has come much earlier than usual. The department is particularly concerned about the growing number of children with flu-like symptoms.

According to Elena Diskin with the VDH, 14.1% of cases are in children under four years old.

“That’s higher than what we normally see at this point in the year,” Diskin said. “Now we’re going back to daycare and might not have that previous immune response.”

Diskin told 8News that a familiar foe is still causing harm.

“We’re still combating COVID-19,” she said.

8News previously reported that VCU Health’s positivity rate for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) rests at 12%, which climbed just above the state of Virginia’s positivity average, which sits at 11.8%.

“We definitely encourage parents to keep an eye out on their child if they have RSV,” Diskin said. “Make sure they’re keeping an eye out for troubled breathing, not able to keep down fluids, or experiencing a worsening system.”

The VDH is recommending that people take every precaution possible.

“If you’re able to stay home when you’re not feeling great,” Diskin said. “Really focus on washing our hands.” 

The department also recommends wearing a mask while sick to stop the spread of respiratory droplets that come from breathing and coughing.

The Richmond and Henrico Health Districts provide vaccination clinics offering COVID-19 vaccines, COVID-19 bivalent boosters, and flu shots. Community members can find more information on the VDH website.

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