They say some flu activity has been detected in Maryland so far this year.
Baltimore, Md (KM). Much attention has been focused this past year on COVID-19. But health officials warn us not to forget about influenza. “The reason we shouldn’t forget about the flu is that the flu is still a major hazard for people, especially people with chronic diseases like asthma and diabetes and heart disease,” says Dr. Clifford Mitchell, Director of the Environmental Health Bureau with the Maryland Department of Health.
The flu season begins in late September or early October, and ends in the early spring.
There wasn’t much of a flu season last year because many people were taking precautions to prevent COVID. But Dr. Mitchell says the Health Department’s Influenza Surveillance System has detected some flu activity in the state. “This year we are seeing an uptick in the flu compared with last year. So we’ll be watching that very closely and encouraging people to get their flu vaccine,” he says.
There has been discussion that 2021 could be the year of the “Twin-Demic,” a pandemic of both the flu and the COVID-19 viruses. Dr. Mitchell points out that each year when the weather becomes cold and dry, and people spend more time indoors, they can contract a number of respiratory diseases, and not just the flu.
And there are certain symptoms that are a sign of the flu. “It’s the body aches, cough, runny nose,”: says Dr. Mitchell. “Unlike COVID, flu generally does not cause that loss of taste or smell. But most of the symptoms that we think of as COVID symptoms are the exactly the same symptoms as the flu.”
He says it’s important for you to get a flu shot, but there are other things we need to do. “All of the things that you do to protect yourself from COVID–washing your hands, covering your cough, covering your sneeze, and social distancing–those all work to prevent all of those conditions,” says Dr. Mitchell.
He also points out that you can get your COVID shot at the same time you receive a flu shot.
For more information on influenza or flu shots, you can go on line to health.maryland.gov.
By Kevin McManus