More than 15,000 Marylanders so far have been struck by symptoms serious enough to send them to hospital emergency rooms or doctors' offices for treatment, according to the CDC. So far there have been no reported deaths in the state, though 20 people across the country have died of flu, all of them children.
Because flu is not a reportable illness, the actual number of flu victims in the state could be much higher than official numbers suggest. Doubtless, many thousands more people have resigned themselves to suffer in silence while hoping the illness will eventually run its course with bed rest and hot tea.
In truth, there's not much doctors can do once a person starts exhibiting flu-like symptoms — coughing, sneezing, sore throat and runny nose — so the first line of defense is vaccination against the
Even so, city and state health officials say getting vaccinated late is better than never because the peak months for infection are this month and next, and the epidemic won't begin to taper off until sometime in March. Though last week the number of cases of influenza-like illnesses appeared to dip slightly compared to the previous week's totals, experts say it's far too early to know whether that trend will continue in coming weeks. In the meantime, area hospitals report that so many people are coming in with flu symptoms that they've stopped testing people for the virus.
That's all the more reason for people to still get vaccinated as soon as possible. The most vulnerable groups are children 6 months to 18 years; senior citizens, especially those living in group homes or retirement communities; pregnant women; and people with serious chronic illnesses such as
Both the city and state governments have put up websites offering residents information about
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and city Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot have been spreading the word on local radio and TV stations about the need for people to get vaccinated. That's good because apparently there are many people who still believe, incorrectly, that getting a