"Widespread" Cases of Flu Reported in Md.

Health Officials: Vaccines still available

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    Flu cases in Maryland appear to be on the rise, with cases jumping from "local" to "widespread," authorities said.

    The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (MDHM) said there has been a dramatic rise in cases statewide in the past two weeks.

    "Now is the time for anyone not yet vaccinated to do so," said Frances Phillips, deputy secretary for Public Health Services. "We will protect ourselves as well as others who may be at risk for more serious flu symptoms."

    Health officials say barring an unusual pandemic, like swine flu, the number of people who come down with the flu generally starts to rise in early January. If the current pace continues in Maryland, the number of people who fall ill, need to be hospitalized or die from the flu will peak in late February.

    Experts say you should check with your local health care provider, pharmacy or health department to get a vaccine.

    The following people are most at-risk:

    • Kids ages 5 years old and younger
    • Adults 65 years old and older
    • Pregnant women
    • Nursing home residents
    • Medical workers

    If you should get the flu, don't be a hero! Stay home and avoid contact with others so you don't get them sick. Health experts say to help prevent the flu you should also wash your hands often, and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. You should also be sure to toss out tissues after use and stay away from crowded living and sleeping spaces.

    For more tips, you can visit the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) site here.