Flu cases on the rise; H1N1 most prevalent strain

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ROANOKE – Virginia along with 18 other states now have high levels of flu activity.

According to the CDC, that's more than double the number of states from the previous week.

The Virginia Department of Health lists the flu as widespread across the commonwealth. Dr. Paul Skolnik, Carilion's chair of medicine, said they usually see an uptick in mid-December.

So far, Carilion has seen nearly 400 cases of the flu. Carilion now requires all employees to take a flu shot for patients and their own protection.

Skolnik tells us the most prevalent strain of flu is H1N1.

“The type of influenza that is circulating can cause pretty severe disease, particularly in children and the elderly,” Skolnik said.

While it's too early to tell just how effective this year's flu shot is, the vaccine protects against this year's most prevalent strain. Nationally 13 children have died from the flu, none of which were from Virginia.

“So far this season about half of the influenza cases have been in people over 30 years old, and half under 30 years old. There has been a special concentration in very young kids. They are always at the highest risk of death along with the very elderly,” Skolnik said.

It's not too late to get your flu shot. Doctors advise everyone over six months old to take the vaccine, especially those who are pregnant or have chronic health complications.

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