Baltimore, MD (November 5, 2015) – The first laboratory-confirmed case of seasonal influenza in Maryland has been diagnosed in an adult in the Baltimore metropolitan area. The individual was not hospitalized. The flu strain was type A (H1N1). This year’s influenza vaccine formulation includes the A (H1N1) strain.
“The flu remains a highly contagious disease that seriously affects people each year,” said Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Van T. Mitchell. “There are steps Marylanders can take to protect themselves and their loved ones – chief among which is getting vaccinated.”
Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease that can cause 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, cough, sore throat, body aches and fatigue, and usually begin one to four days after a person has been exposed to the virus.
The influenza vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family from becoming ill with the flu. Yearly vaccinations are important because the strains of influenza that circulate change over time. Influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone older than 6 months. It is important for people at high risk for flu-related complications and severe disease, including:
- Children 6 months to 18 years old;
- People 50 and older;
- Pregnant women;
- People of any age with chronic medical conditions;
- People undergoing therapy, or with a condition that may weaken their immune systems,
- People caring for someone in these groups also should be vaccinated to avoid spreading the disease to them. These people include healthcare workers, household contacts of individuals at risk for complications from the flu, and daycare or school workers.
The vaccine is widely available, and Maryland residents are urged to get protected now by contacting their health care provider, local health department or neighborhood pharmacy. MedImmune, the manufacturer of FluMist, the nasal spray vaccine, has announced that the distribution of FluMist vaccine will be delayed. Flu shots, however, remain plentiful and widely available.
If you believe you are ill with the flu:
- Contact your healthcare provider for management of flu symptoms or treatment of any complications.
- 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 with hot water and soap 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 may be affected severely.
- Stay home from work or school whenever possible to avoid spreading the flu to your friends and coworkers.
Last season, the first confirmed case of influenza was reported on October 9, 2014. Stay up-to-date on influenza activity in Maryland by visiting http://dhmh.maryland.gov/fluwatch for weekly updates.
The State has an Internet-based Maryland Resident Influenza Tracking Survey (MRITS). This tool is designed to enhance the State’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 influenza and the benefits of vaccination, visit http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/influenza/SitePages/Home.aspx or http://www.cdc.gov/flu/ or http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/index.htm or call CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO.