BALTIMORE (WJZ) — During the cold winter months, people generally spend more time indoors in closer proximity to friends, family and co-workers. Those are perfect conditions for the spread of the flu. Now, as Mike Schuh reports, the number of cases is building.
Maryland has reported one confirmed case of the flu, and across the country, 97 cases have been tracked. Most cases, however, go untracked and unreported.
At GBMC, ER physician Walter Hettinger says you shouldn’t wait too long to see a doctor.
“First of all, you’re going to get some idea that the flu is around because people you know are going to be sick. So when others get sick and you start to get sick, the best time is within that first 48 hours because he can prescribe medicine,” Hettinger said.
If seen within that time, there are medicines that can actually battle the flu, not just treat the symptoms.
“Really, the fever and the body aches are the most characteristic symptoms of the flu,” he said.
Sick or not, we all should cover our mouths and nose whenever we cough or sneeze, preferably with the crook of our arm. Experts say during the flu season, prevention can be something as simple as trying not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth, as they are the primary paths which lead to infection.
To avoid a hospital or a doctor visit, a flu shot is recommended.
“And that ameliorates the duration of the flu and some of the symptoms,” Hettinger said.
Though the number of cases is still low, they have doubled in the last month.
Government figures show that traditionally January and February are the worst months for outbreaks of the flu.