Health and Medicine


(10/29 4pm) (ROANOKE, Va.) – This afternoon, the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts (RCAHD) announced that they learned that a third adult who was hospitalized with complications has died from hepatitis A. The RCAHD will disclose no further information about the individual to protect privacy and out of respect for the family.

“It is always with extreme sadness that we report the death of an individual,” said RCAHD health director, Cynthia Morrow, MD, MPH. “This heartbreaking loss of life illustrates how serious this outbreak is.  Unfortunately, in this situation, we have seen many individuals experiencing severe disease, and in some cases, their symptoms have continued to progress over weeks.”

(earlier) The Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts announced today that a second adult who was hospitalized with complications from hepatitis A has died. This is tied to the Hepatitis A outbreak among people who ate at one of three Famous Anthony’s restaurants in August, when an employee there who had contracted “Hep A” was working. Health district director Dr. Cynthia Morrow said it was, quote, “devastating that we have seen a high rate of severe disease associated with this outbreak.” There are a total of 49 confirmed cases, including 31 hospitalizations. A small number of cases are still under investigation, and no new cases have been reported to the health districts this week. “We grieve the loss of this second individual, who was loved by friends and family,” said  Morrow

Linda Kay Simmons-courtesy photo

A fictionalized memoir about a brother and sister who were raised in an abusive home – how it impacted their lives, and what readers might take away from it – is the subject of a new book from a Smith Mountain Lake author – who will sign copies this afternoon for a SARA-Roanoke fundraiser at the tail end of “Domestic Abuse Awareness Month.” WFIR’s Gene Marrano has more in this “Longer Listen” segment:

Click here to find out more about SARA-Roanoke


Photo: Virginia Tech

Confusion about the booster shots and about the efficacy of the COVID vaccines in general. One reason for the “vaccine hesitancy” that has led to protests over mandates and people fired for not being vaccinated? – a lack of clear messaging admits one health district director. The story from WFIR’s Gene Marrano:

Photo: VDH

(Statement from Virginia State Vaccination Liaison Dr. Danny Avula on CDC Recommendation of Moderna, J&J Booster Doses and ‘Mixing and Matching’) (Richmond, Va.) – On October 21, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced recommendations for booster shots for certain people who previously received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccines. Virginians will be able to receive boosters for Moderna and J&J beginning today.

For individuals who received either a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, a single booster is recommended at least six months after completion of their initial series for those populations who are 65 years of age and older, those living in long-term care facilities, and those 18 years of age and up who are at increased risk due to underlying medical conditions or where they work or live. A single booster is recommended at least two months after completion of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines for those 18 years of age and up.

The CDC also announced that there are now booster recommendations for all three available vaccines in the United States. Those individuals eligible for a booster vaccine may choose which vaccine to receive as their booster. Further guidance from the CDC in the coming days to help individuals understand these recommendations is expected.

The following statement is from Virginia’s State Vaccination Liaison Dr. Danny Avula, MD, MPH.

“VDH has been working with our vaccination partners — pharmacies, healthcare providers, hospitals and other institutions — to prepare for the booster rollout.  In addition to these vaccination partners, Community Vaccination Centers (CVCs) are strategically located across the Commonwealth to ensure Virginians will be able to access a booster dose when it’s recommended.  The move by the CDC to allow vaccine recipients to ‘mix and match’ vaccines for their boosters gives Virginians another level of choice in protecting themselves from COVID-19.

“If you decide to get a booster dose by mixing and matching, VDH urges you to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider who can assist you in making the best decision for your own situation. We also stress that all three vaccines authorized for administration in the United States are highly effective in preventing severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalization and death.”

The next episode for the Hulu mini-series “Dopesick” drops today. Roanoke journalist Beth Macy wrote the best-selling book of the same name. She then spent five months as a writer and producer as part of the Dopesick Hulu production. WFIR’s Gene Marrano spoke to Beth Macy last week via Zoom about treating Opioid Use Disorder – OUD, about bringing Oxycontin maker Purdue Pharma to justice over its role in the opioid addiction crisis – and about what’s ahead. Here is a “Longer Listen”:


A Roanoke author’s chronicle of the opioid crisis – with its roots in southwestern Virginia – are now available to stream, with the first three episodes of the 8-part Hulu miniseries available. WFIR’s Gene Marrano asked the author about what’s next:


Today, the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts (RCAHD) announced that an adult who was hospitalized with complications from hepatitis A, and who had underlying medical conditions, has died. The RCAHD will disclose no further information about the individual to protect privacy and out of respect for the patient’s family. This is the first reported death associated with this recent outbreak of hepatitis A.

“My heart goes out to the family and friends of this individual,” said RCAHD health district director, Cynthia Morrow, MD, MPH. “Hepatitis A virus typically causes self-limited inflammation of the liver, however in this outbreak, we have seen a high rate of severe disease.” At this time, the RCAHD have identified a total of 37 confirmed cases including 26 hospitalizations. Anyone who visited any of the following Famous Anthony’s locations — 4913 Grandin Road, 6499 Williamson Road or 2221 Crystal Spring Ave. (now closed)  — from August 10 through 27 only, is urged to seek medical attention if they develop any of the following symptoms:

  • jaundice: yellowing of the skin or the eyes
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • dark urine
  • light-colored stools


Carilion Clinic recently interviewed some of its frontline health care workers in the COVID-19 ICU units that have been overwhelmed at times due to the pandemic surge fueled by the Delta variant. One nurse offers her take as WFIR’s Gene Marrano reports: