BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Flu season is hitting the country hard, and Maryland isn’t immune to the spike in cases.

“We’re seeing a lot of people who are sick with influenza-like illness, so the wards and the emergency departments are full,” says Dr. Leonardo Girio-Herrera of the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health.

The current flu season has claimed lives in several states, including in Maryland where a Frederick woman died last week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of people visiting the doctor for flu-like illness is on track to rival the 2014-15 season. That year, an estimated 34 million Americans got the flu. Now, several Maryland hospitals are taking unusual steps to keep the influenza virus from spreading.

“By restricting the number of visitors, we are decreasing the risk of them getting the flu,” Girio-Herrera said. “We’re simply trying to prioritize patient safety.”

The University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake is limiting the number of adult visitors to a maximum of two and not allowing visitors under 18 years old or those who have flu-like symptoms. Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Anne Arundel Medical Center and Sinai Hosptial are also imposing age and visitor restrictions due to the high risk of influenza.

“As a precaution, anyone who comes to this hospital with flu symptoms like coughing or runny nose is asked to wear a mask. And absolute everyone has to wash their hands,” Girio-Herrera said.

Anyone experiencing flu symptoms is urged to see a doctor.

“You certainly shouldn’t wait several days with a really bad illness because the infection may get worse,” Girio-Herrera said.

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