ANNAPOLIS — The flu
strain that has been making
many sick in Maryland and
around the country may be
peaking, but that doesn’t
mean it’s time to cease precautions
and skip the flu shot.
Other strains could circulate,
keeping the flu around
Overall, the intensity of flulike
illnesses in Maryland
remains high, according to
the latest Maryland Department
of Health and Mental
Hygiene report for the week
ending Jan. 19. The influenza
virus was geographically
widespread according to the
last report, meaning there is
flu activity throughout different
regions, said David
Blythe, a medical epidemiologist
with the state. While the
virus is difficult to predict, he
said there is a possibility the
flu has peaked and is headed
toward a decline.
Even though the H3N2
strain has predominated this
flu season, people could contract
other strains and respiratory
viruses, such as
parainfluenza and respiratory
syncytial virus (RSV). The
flu vaccine can protect
against these different
strains and viruses.
It’s not too late to get vaccinated,
but the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention
advises people to call
more than one provider to
find an available vaccine,
because the vaccine is moredifficult to find than it was earlier
in the flu season. Donald
Milton, a professor in the
School of Public Health at the
University of Maryland, said
this flu season seems unusually
bad because there was a mild
flu season last year.
Milton oversees a research
study that aims to find out how
much people shed into the air
when they have the flu. The
study will also look at how long
the flu takes to spread from
person to person.
“We’re actively recruiting
people to come early in their flu
if they should be so unlucky to
get it,” he said. “We want to test
them as soon as possible to see
how much virus they are shedding
into the air, as a way to tell
how infectious people are.”
Blythe said the H3N2 strain
is typically more severe than
normal flu, which is one reason
why this flu season feels more
intense. The flu is most common
among young people
between the ages of 5 and 24.
Despite the increased flu
activity, hospitals have been
able to handle the influx of
“I know people who have
been sick, and that’s had a big
impact on them and their families,
but in terms of things like
hospitals functioning, of course
they’re still functioning,”
In Annapolis, where legislators,
lobbyists and the public
come together for 90 days of
handshaking and lawmaking,
the legislature is operating as
normal despite the intensity of
the flu season.
Delegate Mary Washington,
D-Baltimore, said it’s been
business as usual. She relies on
people paying attention to the
CDC and the news to figure out
what measures they want to
“You can’t overestimate what
can happen,” she said. “We’re
in a very close space with each
other constantly, and if someone’s
not feeling so well, they
should stay home. But because
we’re working so hard and
we’re only here 90 days, the
tendency to work through your
illness is just there.”
Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez,
D-Montgomery, said she hopes
communication about the flu
will start earlier next season so
it will be more preventable.
“I’m sorry (the media) didn’t
make the big fuss earlier
because it seemed like the
news was there after there
were a lot of cases, so it seems
we need to prevent earlier ... I
didn’t get (a flu shot) because I
hadn’t even focused on it until I
saw the really serious news.”
ANNAPOLIS — The flu
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