Lynchburg Centers Take Precautions to Fight the Flu in Young & Old People

Lynchburg, VA - The Virginia Department of Health has released its latest flu numbers across Virginia specifically. Our region still has the highest number of cases, although they appear to be going down.

A little over 8 % of people who visited hospitals and urgent care centers actually had the flu, compared to 12 % the week before.

The young and the old are the hardest hit by the virus because their immune systems aren't always strong enough to fight it off.

That has nursing homes and daycare centers taking extra precautions right now.

Officials at the Lynchburg Health Department are especially worried about people who are 65 years and older. They make up for 90 % of flu-related deaths.

At Rebecca's Rainbow Early Learning Center, fighting the flu can be fun. Along with songs to encourage handwashing, they're sanitizing toys more often and asking staff to keep an eye out for symptoms.

Nationally, 20 children have died from illnesses related to the flu, so far, in one of the worst seasons on record.

"When it boils down to it, some things are out of your hands and there's nothing that you can really do," said Sara Williams, the daycare director.

The CDC does not track the number of adult deaths related to the flu. But nursing homes like Runk and Pratt aren't taking any chances.

"We had immediately five residents that came down with it. So, to me that indicated that we had a problem," said Vickie Runk.

They cancelled all Christmas parties last month, limited the number of group activities, and are asking visitors to stay away if they show signs of the virus.

The director of Lynchburg's Health Department says it's complications like pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus infections that they're concerned about.

"It's not uncommon for a person whose body's really stressed by flu to have a heart attack," said Dr. Kerry Gateley

"Our families just know that our first line of defense is we're gonna protect our residents," said Runk.

The health department monitors outbreaks in nursing homes, emergency rooms and has a casual agreement with schools. In December, more than 40 outbreaks were reported across the state.