CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The flu season may not be getting any worse in West Virginia, but that doesn't mean it's getting better.
The number of cases has stayed relatively constant since Jan. 6 -- the last two weeks for which flu cases have been reported.
Dr. Rahul Gupta, executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, thinks the number of flu cases in West Virginia has hit a plateau. That seems to be following national trends.
"It went up really fast and now it's just sort of becoming stagnant," he said.
But the state still is in the midst of one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory. With widespread outbreaks in all but a few states, this season is the most severe since the 2009 pandemic.
An exact figure is hard to come by, but Gupta estimates Kanawha County doctors have been seeing hundreds of new flu cases each week. Statewide, more than 7,000 cases of influenza-like illness were reported last week.
Even with the number of new cases leveling off, Gupta is preaching caution. Typically, he says, this is the point in the season when officials see more hospitalizations, complications and deaths.
"What tends to happen is that as the disease peaks, a lot of people get sick and they get hospitalized," Gupta said. "We understand that obviously as the influenza disease peaks, the deaths follow."
At least two adults in Kanawha County have died from influenza-related complications, but Gupta warns that number is probably much higher. Gupta said there have likely been "many more" deaths related to influenza in the county and the state.