Flu Rate Spikes in Maryland
Flu has spiked suddenly here in Maryland going from “Minimal” to “High” in early January 2019 and the CDC is reporting nearly 7 million people have already contracted the flu this season.
The CDC is also estimating over 70,000 people have been hospitalized with over 30 states reporting “widespread” Influenza outbreaks and the season is expected to last into March. Everyone is advised that it is not too late to get vaccinated!
Influenza Killed 80,000 People Last Year
Last year’s flu season was one of the deadliest on record.
During the 2017-2018 flu season, nearly 1 million Americans were hospitalized and 80,000 people died as a result of the flu, which was the highest death toll in decades.
This year, the CDC is reporting 16 pediatric deaths so far but last year, over 180 pediatric deaths were reported.
Think you have the Flu? Find out Early!
Anti-viral medicines only work if started in the first 48 hours after a person starts feeling sick, making it imperative that you get seen right away if you think you have the flu–don’t wait!
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.
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.
According to Dr. Freedman of Evolve Direct Primary Care, the single most important thing you can do to prevent the flu, or any cold or viral illness is frequent hand washing!
“Get obsessive about hand washing. I wash or sanitize pretty much every time I touch someone or something other than my personal items. And keep your hands away from your face unless freshly washed!”–Dr. Michael Freedman, Evolve Direct Primary Care
Is it a Cold or truly Influenza?
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 Flu 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 day 3 or 4, but they are still contagious for up to a week more!
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 Influenza
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.