But it could pick up early next year.
Baltimore, Md (KM) The flu season is underway, but so far influenza activity in Maryland is very low, according to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Dr. Richard Brooks with DHMH says the agency uses several ways to measure flu activity, including a network of health care providers, and what they’re learned from their patients. “In the past week, out of all of the visits that these providers saw, only 1.5% of them were influenza-type illness,” he said. “And so we report that as a minimal I.L.I intensity level.”
But Dr. Brooks says that doesn’t mean citizens should forget about getting vaccinated against the flu. “Everybody who doesn’t get a flu shot is at risk for getting the flu,” he says. “And I think that it’s probably under appreciated in the general population the fact that every year we have people who die from the flu. And it isn’t necessarily just people who fall into the high risk category who do die from it.”
Those in the high risk category are the elderly, small children and those with compromised immune systems.
After you get your flu shot, Dr. Brooks says you still need to take precautions to avoid getting influenza. “Making sure you wash your hands on a regular basis; covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough; trying to stay home from work or home from school when you are sick; and staying away from other people when you are sick,” he says.
He also points out that you can’t get the flu from the influenza vaccination, which consists of dead flu viruses. “That virus is a dead virus and it cannot come back to life and infect somebody,:” says Dr. Brooks.
Even though flu activity around the state is low, Dr. Brooks says that’s expected to change. “We tend to start seeing increases starting in December, and continuing on through March, though the season itself can continue on beyond that. But we start seeing peak activity during those times,” he says.
By Kevin McManus