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.
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.
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is the state government agency that protects Maryland’s public health. We work together to promote and improve the health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management, and community engagement. Stay connected: www.twitter.com/MarylandDHMH andwww.facebook.com/MarylandDHMH.