Department of Health & Mental Hygiene News Release
BALTIMORE, MD (December 30, 2011) Seasonal influenza has officially hit in Maryland, according to Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) officials. The first laboratory-confirmed case of seasonal influenza has been diagnosed in an adult in the Baltimore Metropolitan Region. Last season, the first confirmed case was reported on October 14, 2010.
"Seasonal influenza is here in Maryland, said Frances Phillips, DHMH Deputy Secretary of Public Health Services. If you have not been vaccinated, now is the time to protect yourself, family and community against this illness that affects thousands of people every year.
The virus which causes influenza is contagious, spreading from person to person through coughing or sneezing. It is also spread by direct contact with infected people and contaminated surfaces or objects. Symptoms usually begin one to four days after being exposed to the influenza virus and include fever, body aches, fatigue, coughing, and sore throat.
Yearly vaccinations are important because the strains of influenza that circulate change over time. This seasons vaccine is aimed at three strains that are expected to be most prevalent this season: Type A /California/7/2009 (H1N1)like virus, Type A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus, and Type B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus. It is not too late to be vaccinated. Plenty of vaccine is available in Maryland. Contact your health care provider, local health department, or neighborhood pharmacy to get vaccinated.
Influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone over the age of six months. It is especially important for those individuals who are at high risk for influenza-related complications and severe disease, including:
Children of 6 months to 18 years of age;
Persons 50 years of age and older;
Persons of any age with chronic medical conditions; and
Persons undergoing therapy, or with a condition, that may weaken their immune
Persons caring for someone in these groups should also be vaccinated to avoid spreading the disease. These persons include healthcare workers, household contacts of individuals at risk for complications from the flu, and daycare/school workers.
If you believe you are ill with influenza:
Get rest and drink plenty of fluids.
Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers and wash your hands often.
Avoid crowded places like shopping malls or public transportation.
Avoid unnecessary visits to hospitals or other settings where people with other conditions may get your flu and be affected severely.
Stay home from work or school whenever possible to avoid spreading the flu to your friends and coworkers.
Help us track influenza in Maryland:
Maryland has implemented an Internet-based Maryland Resident Influenza Tracking Survey, a first in the nation. This tool is designed to enhance the States existing influenza surveillance by monitoring influenza-like illnesses among residents who may not seek medical care. Those who choose to volunteer may sign up via the Internet to receive weekly on-line surveys where they can report any flu-like symptoms for the previous week. Interested Maryland residents who want to learn more about influenza or to sign up may log-on to www.dhmh.maryland.gov and click on Seasonal Flu Information under the Hot Topics. On that page there is information abount influenza and a heading 'Be a Flu Fighter.' This link http://flusurvey.dhmh.md.gov/ will take you to directly to Maryland Resident Influenza Tracking Survey.
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