BALTIMORE (AP/WBOC)- Maryland health officials say they have confirmed the state's first case of influenza this season.
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced Thursday that the first laboratory-confirmed case was diagnosed in an adult in the Baltimore metropolitan area, who was not hospitalized. Officials say the patient was sickened by a strain that is included in this year's influenza vaccine formulation.
Health officials warn that the contagious respiratory disease can cause serious complications or death and urge people to get vaccinated.
The virus that causes influenza spreads from person to person through coughing or sneezing and direct contact with infected people and contaminated objects. Common symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches and fatigue and usually begin one to four days after exposure.
Officials say influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone older than 6 months. They also say it is important for people at high risk for flu-related complications and severe disease, including:
Officials also said people caring for someone in these groups also should be vaccinated to avoid spreading the disease to them. These people include healthcare workers, household contacts of individuals at risk for complications from the flu, and daycare or school workers.
For weekly updates on influenza activity in Maryland go to dhmh.maryland.gov/fluwatch