CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Cases of the flu have begun to hit the area with the peak season expected in January and February.
"We have had much more flu season activity over the last several days," said Dr. Rahul Gupta, executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department. "That is typical for this time of year. We anticipate the flu to increase within the next few weeks. This makes it more important to get a flu shot as soon as possible. It takes two weeks to develop immunity."
There has been widespread flu activity in several states, including neighboring states of Virginia and Pennsylvania, he said. West Virginia is categorized as part of Region 3 that includes the states of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
The widespread cases reported in Virginia and Pennsylvania are swine flu, or the H1N1 strain that spread so rapidly in 2009.
The current flu vaccine covers the H1N1 strain along with others.
"It is well covered by the vaccine," said Gupta, who added it is expected that a particular strain of the flu may reoccur.
Severe illnesses have been reported in surrounding states that have required hospitalization and there have been some deaths, although statistics are not yet available.