MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) – Monongalia County is seeing a rise in respiratory illnesses this season, and health officials don’t predict them to trend down anytime soon.
For flu cases, health department officers said they are seeing higher numbers this season compared to the past two years. They also predicted that cases won’t spike again until after the holidays but will stick around until April or May.
“There isn’t very much normal, underlying immunity to the herd and so we’re expecting larger than normal numbers this year,” Dr. Lee B. Smith, health officer of the Monongalia County Health Department, said.
COVID cases are still around as well. “We’re seeing on average about 60 cases, pretty steady, per 100,000 population for a seven-day average,” Dr. Smith said.
On Tuesday, 30 people were checked into the hospital with COVID and 15 with the flu in Monongalia County’s WVU Medicine and Mon Health facilities, according to Dr. Smith.
As part of the “Tripledemic” that health officials are concerned about nationwide, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases are popping up in West Virginia. It’s an illness that is common in children but is being found in adults as well this year.
“They’re all on the upswing,” Dr. Smith said about the three illnesses.
Dr. Smith recommended people use caution when gathering for the holidays because there’s still a risk when getting together with people from other places.
“It’s important that people, if they’re feeling ill or having sniffles or a sore throat, distance themselves. Wear a mask in public, wear a mask around your family, don’t show up for work if you’ve got a fever or a cough,” he said. “I think that it’s important that people take responsibility for their own actions.”
Dr. Smith also urged people to get tested by their primary care doctor instead of going to an emergency room to avoid clogging up that type of care for those who need it.
The Monongalia County Health Department does offer COVID and flu vaccines. For the flu vaccines, they are following the CDC recommendations of advising everyone over 6 months old to get their vaccine and those over the age of 65 get a “high dose” vaccine.
“This year, the formula for this year’s influenza vaccine includes four of the most prevalent viruses that have been identified and therefore should have a higher than usual efficacy, effectiveness rate,” Dr. Smith said.
For COVID, the department has the bivalent vaccine that is intended to protect against both the delta and omicron strains of the virus.
“There are 84 different types of delta and there are 104 different types of omicron,” Dr. Smith said about what the CDC and WV laboratories have kept track of so far.
There is currently no vaccine for RSV.