BALTIMORE (WJZ) –Coughing. Fever. Sore throat. Complaints about those symptoms are being heard in many Maryland households right now.
Suzanne Collins reports the state health department is suddenly seeing a dramatic increase in cases of the flu.
The flu is striking Marylanders in great numbers. Hundreds of positive cultures are coming back, confirming H1N1, H3 and the B strain. Hundreds more cases are suspected.
“Very significant increase in the past two weeks or so, in people reporting to doctor’s offices, even hospital ERs, with flu-like illness,” said Fran Phillips, Maryland Health Department.
At Sinai Hospital’s emergency room it is clear to Dr. Dov Frankel there is an upsurge.
“We have seen an increase of patients with symptoms of flu, cough, fever, chills, headaches,” Frankel said.
At Sinai, they test when the patient is a pregnant woman or a child who is admitted to the hospital.
Children are especially vulnerable to the H1N1 strain.
This is the first year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone over age 2 get a flu shot.
“It came back with a vengeance for three days,” said Todd Martinson.
“You be drowsy, weak, and you don’t feel like eating stuff,” said Anthony Powell.
The state health department is encouraging Marylanders to get the flu shot before the peak of the season in February. It currently covers three strains of the flu, including the H1N1 virus.
“The holidays are a great time for travelling and for sharing, and people do bring it back, and then there’s a lag time, the incubation period,” Phillips said.
Only a few random doctors’ offices are short on the flu shot right now. At every health department there is a big supply.
It’s also time to pull out the wet wipes and sanitize the hands.
“Good hand hygiene is number one,” Frankel said. “Wash, wash, wash.”
The ER doctor says he hasn’t seen a single case so far this season of someone who got the flu shot getting sick.