The state recorded its 2nd influenza death recently.
Baltimore, Md (KM) There’s been a lot of flu activity in Maryland this year. Health officials say the flu season usually begins in late January and continues into late March. But this year it appears to be starting a little earlier than usual.
“From the initial data that we have this year, it looks like we’re off to an earlier start than usual,” says Dr. Monique Duwell, Chief of the Center of Infectious Disease Surveillance and Outbreak Response at the Maryland Department of Health. “It’s still too early to be able to say what that will mean for the rest of the season. But we’re continuing to monitor it carefully.”
Maryland recently recorded its second flu death for the season.
Despite the early start for the flu season, Dr. Duwell says it’s not too late to get vaccinated against influenza. “Almost everyone age six-months and older is eligible to get the flu shot. And we really want to encourage people who haven’t yet gotten it to go out and get it now,” she says.
But she says children under six-months cannot get the flu shot. “So it’s really important that people who have contact with these young babies or live in households with these young babies get their flu shot,” says Dr Duwell.
Other ways to keep the flu from spreading, she says, are frequent hand washing with soap and water; covering your mouth when coughing; and staying home from work and school if you have symptoms of the flu.
If you get flu-like symptoms, you’re urged to contact your doctor as soon as possible. “There are anti-viral medications which can be effective against the flu. So that’s something we would encourage people to speak with the health care providers about whether that would be appropriate for them to take an anti-viral medications to try to the decrease the duration of the symptoms of the flu,” says Dr. Duwell.
Those who are most susceptible to getting influenza are younger children and older adults, along with individuals with underlying medical conditions which compromise their immune systems, says Dr. Duwell.
By Kevin McManus