Carroll Hospital Center is seeing more flu cases this year than it did last year at this time, consistent with regional trends, according to a hospital representative.
"We're seeing more in the last few weeks than we saw at this time last year," said Elizabeth Fuss, RN and Infection Control/Associate Health manager at Carroll Hospital Center.
Fuss said that she expects one reason there is a higher incidence of the Influenza virus is that it hit the community prior to the holidays.
"It hit at a time when people generally get together and are more social," Fuss said. "No one wants to say they don't feel well enough to go to a special family event over the holidays--and that's how the flu spreads."
Fuss said that health officials would prefer that the flu doesn't appear until after the holidays. She said last year the flu hit much later, in March.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Influenza is a contagious respiratory virus that can infect the nose, throat and lungs. The best way to prevent the flu is to get a vaccine, the CDC website reports. Find out where to get the flu vaccine in Carroll County.
"In terms of prevention, people should not be around other people when they are coughing and sneezing, especially if they have a high fever," Fuss said.
In addition to good hand hygiene and keeping hands away from the face area and off food, Fuss said the best way to prevent the flu is to get the vaccine. But she warns that it takes about two weeks for the body to get the full immunity from the vaccine, so she urges people to get it as soon as possible.
Fuss recommends that people suffering from flu-like symptoms reach out to their family physician before going to the emergency room. She said for those without a family phyisican, they may want to consider visiting an urgent care center instead of the emergency room.
"Unfortunately there isn't a lot we can do for the flu," Fuss said. "The vast majority of patients we're seeing [for the flu] are being seen in the ER and are not being admitted, but we have admitted more than we did at this time last year."
Fuss advised people to try to keep their immune systems strong -- get enough sleep, eat well, drink lots of fluid and manage stress.