AUGUSTA — Influenza has been confirmed in all 16 Maine counties and is now classified as widespread across the state. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) reminds residents and visitors to get vaccinated and take proper precautions to stay healthy.
So far during this influenza season, which began in the fall of 2019 and will continue into the spring, 90 people in Maine have been hospitalized with influenza and 1,287 positive influenza tests have been reported. This is likely an underrepresentation of the true number of those infected with influenza, or flu, throughout the state. Nationally, it is estimated that more than 6.4 million people have been infected since late September 2019.
Flu viruses spread when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Seasonal influenza symptoms include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches and fatigue. In some cases, influenza can result in more severe symptoms. So far this season, Maine has recorded six flu-related deaths.
“Influenza is unpredictable and, in some cases, deadly,” said Nirav D. Shah, director of the Maine CDC. “The most effective way to prevent the spread of influenza is to get vaccinated, and it’s not too late to get a flu shot.”
Influenza vaccination is recommended each year for anyone 6 months of age and older. Vaccination can reduce a person’s risk of contracting the illness, and subsequent doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to influenza.
Maine CDC suggests four simple steps to reduce the spread of the illness: Wash your hands, cover your cough, stay home when you’re sick and get vaccinated.