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Maryland Health Department confirms season’s first flu cases; urges all Marylanders to get flu shots

October 8th, 2019 by WCBC Radio

The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) urges Marylanders to get vaccinated against influenza, as the flu season has already begun, with 11 laboratory confirmed cases identified since September 1.

The majority of the cases so far have been subtyped as influenza A (H3N2), with a few classified as influenza B. The vaccine protects against both influenza A and B.  

 

“We don’t know yet whether flu activity this early indicates a particularly bad season on the horizon,” said MDH Secretary Robert R. Neall. “Still, we can’t emphasize strongly enough – get your flu shot now. Don’t put it off. The vaccine is widely available at grocery stores, pharmacies and local health clinics, in addition to your doctor’s office.”

 

Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease that may lead to serious complications, hospitalization, and even death. Although most influenza cases are mild and people recover with little to no complications, influenza can pose a serious risk for children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65 years, pregnant women and individuals with compromised immune systems.

 

During last year’s influenza season, 3,274 influenza-associated hospitalizations and 82 influenza-associated deaths were reported to the MDH, including four deaths of individuals under the age of 18.

 

The influenza virus spreads from person to person through coughing or sneezing, as well as through contact with infected people or contaminated surfaces and objects. Common symptoms include fever, body aches, fatigue, coughing and sore throat. Symptoms usually begin one to four days after being exposed.

 

“The best way to protect yourself and your family is to get a flu shot. Getting vaccinated every year is important because the strains change over time,” said Deputy Secretary for Public Health Fran Phillips. “Also, keep in mind that it takes about two weeks after being vaccinated before the body’s full immune response kicks in.”

 

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