Roanoke Valley sees flu, COVID rates spike as RSV numbers decline

ROANOKE, Va. – Southwest Virginia has seen a spike in respiratory illnesses. The flu, COVID-19, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) reached widespread levels this winter.

“There’s no doubt COVID and influenza are circulating at high levels in our communities and people really need to do what they can do to protect themselves,” said Dr. Cynthia Morrow, the director of the Roanoke City & Alleghany Health District.

She said there is some good news.

“RSV has been slowly decreasing over the last several weeks,” said Morrow.

However, an uptick in flu and COVID cases means an uptick in hospitalizations. Last week, the Virginia Department of Health reported its first pediatric flu death of the season.

“Any death of a child is just heartbreaking,” said Morrow.

Carilion Children’s Interim Chair of Pediatrics Dr. Christopher Pierce said while the RSV peak may be in the past, it’s a different story for COVID and the flu.

“Flu, I would say I think we’re still on an uphill climb of that,” said Pierce. “I think there’s probably at least a couple more weeks where we may see that before it peaks.”

He said that caregivers should know the symptoms — fever, cough, sore throat, running/stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, and some people may have vomiting and diarrhea.

“Differentiating between the various respiratory illnesses is pretty darn tricky because any one of them can mask just like any of the others,” said Pierce.

Most importantly, be on the lookout for worsening symptoms.

“Any time the fever seems to get really prolonged or you feel like the child is getting better and all of a sudden they seem to be getting worse, those are a little bit of red flags to reach out to your primary care provider,” said Pierce.

Both doctors prioritize prevention. They recommend you wash your hands, stay home when you’re sick, and get vaccinated.

“It’s never too late to get vaccinated,” said Morrow.

About the Author

You can watch Lindsey during Virginia Today every weekend or as a reporter during the week!

Recommended Videos