Maryland Seeing Late Surge in Influenza Activity
State health department urges residents to get flu shots, practice germ hygiene.
Baltimore, MD (March 16, 2016) – After getting a slow start to the influenza season, flu activity in Maryland has ramped up in recent weeks. While the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced the first laboratory-confirmed case of seasonal influenza in November 2015, flu activity remained at low levels before increasing substantially in late February and early March. Most of this increased activity has been due to influenza type A (H1N1). This year’s influenza vaccine formulation includes the A (H1N1) strain.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease that may lead to serious complications, hospitalization or even death. The virus that causes influenza spreads from person to person through coughing or sneezing, as well as through direct contact with infected people and contaminated surfaces or objects. Common symptoms include fever, body aches, fatigue, coughing and sore throat. Symptoms usually begin one to four days after being exposed to the virus.
The influenza vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family from becoming ill with influenza. Yearly vaccinations are important because the strains of influenza that circulate change over time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone older than 6 months get the flu vaccine. It is not too late to get vaccinated, and Maryland residents are urged to get protected now by contacting their health care provider, local health department or neighborhood pharmacy.
The CDC recommends you take the following steps to help prevent catching the flu:Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Practice other good health habits such as these:
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.
- Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.
If you believe you are ill with influenza:
- Contact your healthcare provider for management of flu symptoms or treatment of any complications. Call them if you have high fever, difficulty breathing or other severe symptoms.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Get rest and drink plenty of fluids.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers and wash your hands often.
- If possible, stay home from work, school, running errands and visiting friends or relatives when you are sick – especially those who are in hospitals or nursing homes. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
According to the CDC, clinicians should encourage all persons with influenza-like illness who are at high risk for influenza complications to seek care promptly to determine if treatment with influenza antiviral medications is warranted.
The State has an Internet-based Maryland Resident Influenza Tracking Survey (MRITS) to enhance Health and Mental Hygiene’s existing influenza surveillance by monitoring influenza-like illnesses among residents who might not seek medical care. Please volunteer! Sign up via the Internet at http://flusurvey.dhmh.maryland.gov/ to receive online surveys where you can report any flu-like symptoms each week.
For more information about the seriousness of seasonal influenza and the benefits of vaccination, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/ or http://goo.gl/y4YpFX, or call CDC at 800-CDC-INFO. Stay up-to-date on influenza activity in Maryland by visiting http://dhmh.maryland.gov/fluwatch for weekly updates.