The Health Dept. is reminding residents to get their flu shots.
Baltimore, Md (KM). The flu season is well underway. The Maryland Department of Health is reporting 11 cases of influenza have been reported in the state since September 1st. “This is early. That’s why we wanted to get the word out because it’s not too early to get vaccinated. So we really wanted people to be aware of that so they can get their flu shot,” says Dr. David Blythe, a medical epidemiologist with the Maryland Department of Health.
He says two types of flu viruses have been detected so far this season. “And that really means is there are different strains of flu circulating, not one predominant strain. All the more reason to get vaccinated because the vaccines can protect against the four main strains of flu that’s circulated in most seasons,”: says Dr. Blythe.
The two types of flu detected this year in Maryland are mostly influenza-A, with a few strains of influenza-B, the Health Department says.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease which could lead to serious complications, hospitalization and even death. The Health Department say most influenza cases are mild and a majority of those who contract the virus recover. But it can pose a serious risk to children under five, adults older than 65 years and individuals with compromised immune systems.
But Dr. Blythe says getting vaccinated against influenza can make a difference. “The vaccine helps you produce antibodies that fight the flu infection and can help prevent flu from occurring,” he says. “And can also prevent some of the complications that occur when people do get the flu.”
The population must susceptible to the flu are children between the ages of six months and five years; people over 50 years of age; adults and children with chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular, renal hepatic; neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic disorders; people who are immune compromised; women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during the flu season; children and adolescents who are receive aspirin or salicylate-containing medications and now might be at risk for Rye syndrome after an influenza virus infections; residents of nursing homes and long term care facilities; and people who are extremely obese with a body mass of more than 40 for adults.
If you do get the flu, the Health Department says contact your health care provider to help manage the symptoms and complications; get rest of drink plenty of fluids; cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing; use alcohol-based hand sanitizers and wash your hands often; and stay home from school or work to avoid spreading the flu.
By Kevin McManus