Jump in respiratory illnesses reported across Virginia
The Virginia Department of Health recently reported an increase in respiratory illnesses across the commonwealth.
Sixteen clusters have been reported in Virginia and three of them have been in Northwest Virginia, according to Dr. Laura Kornegay, the Director of the Central Shenandoah Health District. In the last two years, only five to eight cases were reported.
Whooping cough, influenza, Legionnaire's disease and pneumonia are among the ailments which have been identified.
Dr. Kornegay said older adults and people with chronic diseases like asthma in care facilities have been the most affected.
"All of these diseases are transmitted from respiratory droplets, so if you cough or sneeze, wash your hands, try to avoid close contact with folks who are ill," she said.
Young children are also considered at higher risk by health officials. Children from birth through age 6 receive regular doses of the DTaP vaccine to prevent whooping cough, and a booster shot is needed either in teenage or adult years.