Winter woes begin: Md. health dept. confirms first flu cases

WASHINGTON — ‘Tis the reason for the sneezin’.

The Maryland Department of Health announced Thursday that they have confirmed the first three cases of seasonal influenza for the 2017-2018 season.

This year’s cases come about two weeks later than the previous year’s.

All three cases were confirmed in a laboratory and diagnosed in Baltimore-area adults — one of whom was hospitalized and released.

All three also had the same flu strain: A (H3).

While many adults under the age of 65 can manage dealing with this contagious respiratory disease, it can lead to serious complications, hospitalization and even death.

The flu is transmitted from person to person via coughing, sneezing, contact with the infected and contaminated surfaces or objects.

Common symptoms include: fever, body aches, fatigue, coughing and sore throat. These symptoms usually begin one to four days after being exposed to the virus, according to the Maryland Department of Health.

They urge area residents to get flu shots, provided you’re over the age of six months.

Those most at-risk for serious complications are:

  • Children younger than five, but especially children under two;
  • Adults 65 and older;
  • Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum);
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities;
  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives;
  • 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. Healthcare workers, household contacts of individuals at risk for complications from the flu, daycare and school workers.

“The vaccine is widely available, and Maryland residents are urged to get protected now by contacting their health care provider, local health department or neighborhood pharmacy to schedule an appointment,” the Department of Health said in a news release.

Those who want to track flu activity in Maryland can do so at this website.

But Maryland residents aren’t the only ones who should be vigilant about the virus.

The Virginia Department of Health currently lists influenza activity in the state as “sporadic” on their website.

Additional information about the flu and the benefits of vaccination can be found on the Maryland Health Department’s website or on the Centers for Chronic Disease and Prevention’s website.

Information on the influenza vaccine can be found at the CDC’s website, or call CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO.

The CDC’s weekly national flu activity map can be found at this website.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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