Viral outbreak that forced 1,000 pupils off sick at ONE Virginia school is blamed on influenza 

A viral outbreak that caused 1,000 students at a Virginia school to miss class last week is believed to have been caused by influenza A, local officials report.

Stafford High School, in Fredericksburg, Virginia – 50 miles southwest of Washington D.C. – recorded nearly 1,000 absent students on Friday amid an illness outbreak.

Officials initially could not determine what was at the root of the outbreak.

But Rappahannock Area Health District reports that many students tested positive for influenza A this week, and that symptoms are consistent with the diagnosis.

They believe that the virus is at the center of the outbreak and will provide more information later this week. 

The school avoided closure despite the outbreak and extracurricular activities that were halted over the weekend are planned to resume Tuesday.

Experts have warned the US is heading for its more severe flu outbreak in years after the virus was suppressed by lockdowns and the more-infectious Covid virus.

In the past two years there have been barely any cases, which is feared to have weakened Americans’ immunity significantly. 

Flu cases nationwide have tripled in the past month — in a sign of an early and aggressive season. 

DailyMail.com reported yesterday that the US could suffer a ‘tripledemic’ as cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) also pile pressure on pediatric hospitals and there are signs of a Covid comeback in southern states.

A viral outbreak that has struck Stafford High School (pictured) in Fredericksburg, Virginia, is believed to be cause by influenza A after multiple students tested positive for the virus. Around 1,000 students missed school this week because of the illness 

This graph shows the number of flu cases diagnosed since the summer. It reveals cases have tripled in a month, amid concern over the winter surge starting earlier than normal

This graph shows the number of flu cases diagnosed since the summer. It reveals cases have tripled in a month, amid concern over the winter surge starting earlier than normal

The above graph shows the number of positive tests for RSV viruses by date in the United States. It reveals they have now reached their highest levels since 2020, before the pandemic began. Data is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The above graph shows the number of positive tests for RSV viruses by date in the United States. It reveals they have now reached their highest levels since 2020, before the pandemic began. Data is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Virginia is considered to be suffering 'moderate' flu activity as of the week that ended on October 15, according to official data from the CDC

Virginia is considered to be suffering ‘moderate’ flu activity as of the week that ended on October 15, according to official data from the CDC

‘The school has reported that a number of students have tested positive for influenza A, and more are showing respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms consistent with the flu,’ the Rappahannock Area Health District wrote in a release.

The school wrote on Facebook Monday that the Virginia Department of Health recommended it to stay open despite the outbreak.

Children’s hospitals are overwhelmed by RSV, flu cases triple in a month and there are early signs of a Covid comeback

The US could be thrashed by ‘tripledemic’ of viruses this winter as the knock-on effects of lockdown begin to bite.

Already cases of RSV — an infection that can be deadly in babies — are at their highest level in two years and the outbreak is months ahead of schedule.

The resurgence in RSV has caused a surge in pediatric hospital admissions with nearly 70 per cent of children’s hospital beds now filled by youngsters with respiratory bugs.

Experts have repeatedly told DailyMail.com lockdowns and measures used to contain Covid like face masks also suppressed the spread of germs which are crucial for building a strong immune system in children.

Meanwhile, flu cases have tripled in the past month and there are signs Covid is rebounding in 13 states.

Dr Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said he expects this winter to be ‘more aggressive’ than normal because immunity to seasonal bugs is so low.

While afterschool activities at the school will resume Tuesday, inter-school events have still been suspended.

This is in an effort to prevent the outbreak from jumping elsewhere in the county.

Officials will reevaluate the situation and make another decision later this week.

Virginia reports that 3.6 per cent of its emergency department visits during the week that ended on October 15 were because of the flu. 

This is a jump of 20 per cent from the three per cent reported just two weeks earlier.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the state to be of ‘moderate’ flu activity.

Only seven other states and the District of Columbia are experienced that level or higher flu circulation. 

Leading US experts have warned that this year’s flu season would be more brutal than those of previous years.

Dr Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and board member at Pfizer, said he expected this winter to be ‘more aggressive’ than others this week.

He told CBS’ Face the Nation: ‘We’re seeing a peak in [flu] cases right now.

This is not unlike the season last year, where we also saw an early peak.

‘In those cases, some people ascribe it to the fact that children have been somewhat removed from the circulating pathogen, so you don’t have as much immunity to the pathogen, so you don’t have as much immunity in the population generally.

‘So that’s changed the typical cycle for this virus.’

Typically the RSV season runs from mid-September to mid-November. But this year it began in August.

The surge has been blamed for an overwhelming rise in pediatric hospital admissions in recent weeks.

About 71 per cent of the nation’s 40,000 pediatric beds are currently filled, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, the most in two years.

The virus, which causes mild, cold-like symptoms in most adults and older children, can be deadly for babies, according to the CDC.

In severe cases it can spread to the lower respiratory tract, causing pneumonia or bronchiolitis.

PCR-confirmed cases have now risen to their highest level since the pandemic began hitting 7,334 diagnoses in the latest week.

For comparison, weekly cases did not rise above 5,000 last year.

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