Flu season arrives in Maine

Nov 10, 2012

Augusta — Influenza has officially arrived in Maine.

The first positive influenza A cases were detected by Affiliated Laboratory Inc. the week of Oct. 29-Nov. 2. These cases were in a young adult from Aroostook County, a teenager from Penobscot and an adult from Cumberland County. Neither patient was vaccinated or required hospitalization.

A long-term care facility in Penobscot County also reported an outbreak of influenza Oct. 31. Maine’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory confirmed influenza A in an employee and a resident from the facility on Nov. 2.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu vaccine as the first and best way to protect against influenza. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine annually, even if they were vaccinated last year. Flu vaccine is available now and Maine CDC encourages Mainers to get vaccinated.

Every year, up to 20 percent of U.S. residents will get the flu. On average, more than 200,000 will be hospitalized for influenza-related complications. People at high risk for developing flu-related complications include: children younger than 5; adults 65 of age and older; pregnant women; American Indians; Alaskan natives; people who have underlying medical conditions (including asthma, heart disease, and weakened immune systems); and those who are morbidly obese.

“The flu is still a serious illness in the United States” said Dr. Sheila Pinette, Director of Maine CDC, in a news release. “Mainers should do all they can to protect themselves and their loved ones against this illness.”

Flu vaccine is widely available in Maine. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for immune protection to begin, Pinette said.

Signs of influenza include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.

“Anyone with these symptoms should follow the No Flu 4 You guidelines,” Dr. Pinette said. “This includes hand washing, good respiratory etiquette including covering your cough, staying home while ill and getting vaccinated.”

For questions regarding the vaccine please contact the Maine Immunization Program at 287-3746 or 1-800-867-4775 or by email at immuneme@maine.gov.

For questions regarding the disease, or to report cases or an outbreak contact the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Program at 1-800-821-5821 or by email at disease.reporting@maine.gov.

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