Flu strain linked to H1N1 spikes in Central Virginia

Officials are seeing a higher number of cases of influenza in Virginia.
Posted at 1:32 PM, Mar 06, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. -- COVID-19 may be grabbing the headlines right now, but a strain of the flu virus related to the H1N1 strain that caused the pandemic in 2009 is spiking in Central Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

"Every few years, a new strain emerges that people haven't been exposed to before. This new strain can be more dangerous the first time people see it, as they have no underlying immunity. Since 2010, however, that strain has been circulating in the population as a normally-occurring seasonal strain," VDH Respiratory Disease Coordinator Em Stephens said.

Stephens said health officials are seeing a higher number of cases of influenza A (H1N1) right now, as opposed to a peak of flu B earlier in the season.

"The vaccine estimates for this season indicated that the included flu B strains were slightly more effective than the flu A(H1N1) strain included (50% to 37%)," Stephens said.

"Influenza is notoriously difficult to build a vaccine for, so it typically has much lower effectiveness than others. That said, 50% effectiveness means that someone who didn't get the vaccine is twice as likely to get sick from the flu."

Stephens recommended people who haven't been vaccinated against the flu, get vaccinated ASAP.

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