NewsYour Health Matters


20 flu-related deaths in Maryland this season; doctors warn about prevention

Posted at 3:57 PM, Feb 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-04 14:48:20-05

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — It has been a busy flu season so far at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore.

"We've certainly seen an uptick more in the past month," said Dr. Eric Almli, vice chair of the emergency department.

Dr. Almli describes it as a second wave of the illness happening now.

"Most cases are fortunately relatively mild but on occasion, some folks can get very sick from the Influenza virus and we have seen a number hospital admissions increase this winter related to the flu," said Dr. Almli.

The Maryland Department of Health reports that three children and 17 adults have died from the flu this season and as of the last week of January, flu activity was high and widespread geographically.

"Influenza can be serious. It certainly kills a large number of people," said Dr Almli. "Influenza is very contagious."

According to preliminary data on the current flu season, the CDC estimates up to 25,000 people have died and millions more have gotten sick from it.

But what's been grabbing international attention is the Coronavirus outbreak. More than 300 deaths have been reported in China and President Donald Trump declared it a public health emergency. There have been 11 confirmed cases across the entire country.

Dr. Almli said it's serious but not a serious risk for people in Maryland.

"I wouldn't be too worried about that virus right now," said Dr. Almli.

He said the focus should instead be on how to prevent the spread of the flu.

"Definitely the focus should be on Influenza and getting vaccinated and making sure if you have Influenza that you avoid going to work or exposing yourself to the general public," said Dr. Almli.

Flu symptoms include headaches, body aches, a high fever and cough. To prevent the spread, Dr. Almli said make sure to wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough and avoid touching your hands to your face.