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State Health Officials Confirm First Seasonal Flu Cases

Four children from the Baltimore metropolitan area are the first recorded flu cases for 2012.

Four Baltimore-area children are the first confirmed cases of seasonal influenza, according to state health officials.

The four children, who are not being identified, are said to be doing well though one was hospitalized, according to a statement released Friday by the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The first confirmed case in 2011 was reported on December 30, health officials said.

"Flu is here earlier this year than last year, and we are seeing two different flu strains,” Frances Phillips, deputy secretary of Public Health Services, said in the statement. “This really stresses the importance of getting the flu vaccine, and getting it as soon as possible. Fortunately, there is plenty of vaccine to go around.”

Influenza spreads from person to person through coughing or sneezing and direct contact with infected people and contaminated surfaces or objects. Symptoms usually begin one to four days after being exposed to the virus, and include fever, body aches, fatigue, coughing, and sore throat, according to state health officials, according to the release.

Yearly vaccinations are important because the strains of influenza that circulate change over time.

State health officials recommend the following people be vaccinated: 

  • Children 6 months to 18 years of age.
  • Persons 50 years of age and older.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Persons of any age with chronic medical conditions.
  • Persons undergoing therapy, or with a condition that may weaken their immune systems.
  • Persons caring for someone in these groups should also be vaccinated to avoid spreading the disease to them including healthcare workers, household contacts of individuals at risk for complications from the flu, and daycare or school workers. 

The heatlh department release offered the following tips to people who believe they have the flu.

  • Contact your healthcare provider for management of flu symptoms or treatment of any complications.
  • Get rest and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers and wash your hands often.
  • Avoid crowded places like shopping malls or public transportation.

State health officials also urge people to "avoid unnecessary visits to hospitals or other settings where people with other conditions may get your flu and be affected severely. Stay home from work or school whenever possible to avoid spreading the flu to your friends and coworkers."

Weekly updates on influenza activity in the state can be found on the state health department website.

The state has also set-up an internet-based influenza tracking survey to monitor influenza-like illnesses in people "who may not seek medical care," according to the release.

Residents can participate in the influenza survey by signing up on the department website.

Ann October 19, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Thanks, Laura, for my laugh of the day!
Patrick B. October 20, 2012 at 06:09 AM
The flu virus survives best outside the body in low humidity along with cool temperatures, that is why there is a flu season.Nothing to do with crowds, people are in crowds all the time!
Joe October 20, 2012 at 02:35 PM
"Nothing to do with crowds, people are in crowds all the time!" Sure it does. The transmission of the virus is greatly increased in crowds like when Christmas shopping and that is when the numbers seem to peak. If ANY virus is transmittable it must be by definition more likely to transmit when in large crowds.
Joe October 20, 2012 at 02:44 PM
There was a time in our history when vaccines did indeed cause the disease. When the vaccines were being made form the live virus. "It was not until the end of the 18th century that an effective method of vaccination was developed. It was an English scientist named Edward Jenner who discovered it. Jenner observed that milkmaids often got a mild disease called cowpox and that this seemed to make them immune to smallpox. His vaccination strategy involved transferring the blister fluid from a person with cowpox to a person who had not yet had smallpox. This gave the susceptible person a cowpox infection (which was usually mild) and conveyed protection from smallpox. After a time, a virus similar to cowpox, called vaccinia, was substituted in the vaccine. "' Smallpox was one of the first biological weapons. In the 50's the polio vaccine was causing some cases of polio. It is thought to be bad vaccine but that is where this entire vaccine fear started. Old wives tales are hard to stop. Today some live culture vaccines ate still used and people still have fear of being injected with the same thing they are trying to avoid. Your children are injected with live substances in their early childhood. Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR combined vaccine) Varicella (chickenpox) Influenza (nasal spray) Rotavirus Zoster (shingles) Yellow fever
Mike Fisher October 20, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Indeed, vaccines did cause polio in many people and slowed the eradication of the disease which was already happening naturally. The disease went away in Europe w/o vaccines. There are millions of cases of people who get the flu shot, then get a terrible case of the flu. I know several this happened to last year even, but many throughout my life. That's not even including the MERCURY that you are injecting directly into your bloodstream along with other chemicals like formaldehyde. Vaccines are unnecessary and dangerous. People line up like sheep for their vaccines and all these people are shedding the flu virus for the next three days for anyone to catch. I haven't had a vaccine since I was a teenager and I never get sick even when I've been around people who have the flu. It's called an immune system, that's why we have one. Mine is rock solid, how's yours? The same dogma that exists with fluoridation advocates exist with vaccine advocates. Vaccination is supposed to be a one time thing, but flu vaccines don't work because the virus changes so much, even over the course of a season. Why do you need "booster" shots? Vaccines are for life, but they are nothing but a money making machine for the naive. Go line up for your vaccines and get all that mercury too. Just know you're getting other people sick because you are shedding the virus days after you get it for other people to catch and that mercury is going to kill you sooner. Vaccines are a joke, most things are.

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