Influenza Rate Spikes in Maryland
The influenza rate has spiked suddenly here in Maryland. Flu intensity is now listed at the highest level and widespread. In the US, 13 children have died this year from the flu.
At the same time, the influenza strain being detected this year is H3N2 and according to a commentary published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the flu vaccine may only be 10% effective against this year’s strain.
Influenza Spikes Across US
Nationwide, the flu virus continues to spread rapidly, including Maryland. The CDC’s latest report shows flu activity is “high” to “extremely high” in a number of regions. Maryland is currently listed as orange in the map to the left, which is high level of influenza activity but not red, which is the highest.
The CDC released an urgent alert to doctors reminding them that the anti-viral treatments (like Tamiflu) should be started as soon as possible and recommending that treatment “should not be delayed even for a few hours”. CDC Health Alert Network, Dec 27, 2017, Influenza.
The CDC adds that even though the antiviral medicine works best if started in the first 48 hours of the illness, there can still be some benefit beyond 48 hours and therefore the recommendation is to give Tamiflu up to 72 hours after onset of illness.
Learn about what you can do to prevent you and/or your family from getting influenza–and what to do if you get sick.
Start with some fast facts:
- Between 3,000 to 49,000 people die every year from influenza.
- 200,000 people are hospitalized every year due to flu
- 5-20% of the population gets the flu each year, on average
- People are contagious from the day BEFORE symptoms start
- People are contagious for 5-10 days AFTER the illness starts (days after they feel better and return to work or school.)
- The main flu virus this year IS covered by the flu vaccine
What are the symptoms of Influenza to look for?
Symptoms usually start very suddenly and often include:
- Fever of 100.4°F to 104°F, which can reach 106°F (41°C)
- Body aches and pain
- Pain when you move your eyes.
- Fatigue, a general feeling of sickness
- Loss of appetite.
- A dry cough, runny nose, and dry or sore throat.
Influenza usually does not cause symptoms in the stomach or intestines, such as vomiting and diarrhea. On the contrary, the “stomach flu” is usually associated with Norovirus or other similar virus. See previous article on Norovirus/stomach bug.
How long is influenza contagious?
People with flu are contagious beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 10 days after becoming sick. Most people have returned to work once their fever is gone, around days 3 or 4, but remain contagious for up to a week more!
How is influenza spread?
Most cough, cold and flu viruses are thought to be passed from person to person by contact with respiratory droplets.
Contact can occur by direct bodily contact (such as kissing) or touching something with virus on it (such as shaking hands with someone who has the flu) and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. Best way to prevent the flu–or any contagious illness–is frequent hand washing!
Call your doctor or go to an urgent care if:
- You have an extremely high fever (104 F or higher)
- You are finding it more difficult to get a good breath
- New symptoms localized to the ear, throat, chest or sinuses
- Symptoms don’t go away or become more severe
Be sure to be seen within 48 hours of the onset of your fever. This is important as treatment is MOST effective if started within 48 hours!
Call 911 if:
- Trouble breathing
- Severe headache or stiff neck associated with confusion or excessive drowsiness
Bottom Line on Flu
If you or someone in your family has sudden onset of high fever, whole body aches, chills and feels generally awful, see your provider right away. A rapid Flu Test is available to get an answer in 10 minutes. Remember that the only anti-viral treatment, must be started within 2 days of symptom onset.
For more information on influenza, visit the Maryland Department of Health’s Flu Watch page or Anne Arundel Health Department of Health’s Flu Tips page.
If you have been experiencing fever, headache, dry cough or any of the above symptoms, please see your doctor immediately–remember that flu must be treated in the first 48 hours! Evolve Medical is always happy to see you as well. Same day scheduling on-line here or call 844-322-4222. Or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.