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Flu Rates Rise Nationwide, But Md. Is Seeing Average Numbers Right Now

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Ritchie Rochelle 175x131 L Rochelle Ritchie
Rochelle Ritchie joined WJZ Eyewitness News in June 2012. Prio...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There’s heightened concern across the country as flu numbers continue to rise. Several children have died from the virus.

Rochelle Ritchie has more on how Maryland stands in the epidemic.

The good news is Maryland remains average in flu cases. The bad news is with flu season still in its prime and neighbor states with higher than normal rates, the threat of an increase is real.

Ten states across the country are listed as having the highest number of flu cases so far this year. Those states are New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Kansas, Wyoming and Alaska. Maryland remains in the clear for now.

But with neighboring states like Virginia and Pennsylvania being in the top 10, Dr. David Schnabel with the Department of Health says simple tasks like washing your hands and getting a flu shot could keep the virus from spreading rapidly.

“There is maybe an increase in influenza in other states and diseases don’t respect borders,” he said.

With millions of people traveling by plane, train and automobile, the rate at which the virus spreads quickly puts more lives at risk.

Several children have died from the flu in the last few months.

In 2009, though, a young Maryland boy died from the H1N1 virus.

“I would have never imagined something as simple as the flu would have taken my son away from me,” his mother said.

Last year, the flu reached epidemic levels in Maryland, with 5,600 laboratory confirmed cases and more than 3,000 hospitalizations.

“There’s less influenza this year than last year, but it’s still spreading throughout Maryland and certainly our population is at risk for influenza,” Schnabel said.

Officials with the Health Department say flu shots are still available.

No deaths have been reported this year in Maryland because of the flu.

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