LANHAM, Md. (WNEW/AP) — The influenza virus is now considered “widespread” by the Centers for Disease Control in both Maryland and Virginia, not exactly surprising considering the intensity of this year’s flu season.
The outbreak has reached the epidemic level, and the CDC expects it to get even worse.
Fifteen children, including one in Virginia, have died of influenza since the 2014-15 flu season began this fall. CBS News reports the number of people being hospitalized for the flu is also on the rise, with those age 65 and older especially at risk.
The flu’s geographic reach is increasing as well, with widespread cases reported in 36 states.
On Monday, the Anne Arundel Medical Center announced that it was experiencing a high volume of patients with the flu and would begin limiting hospital visitors as a result.
Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, Northwest Hospital in Randallstown and Johns Hopkins had already instated similar precautions earlier in the season.
Experts worried from the beginning of the flu season that it would be a rough one because the dominant strain isn’t covered by this year’s vaccine.
Doctors and health officials still say getting the shot is important. Even if you contract the virus, your symptoms may be less severe if you get the vaccine.
For those who are unlucky enough to experience severe symptoms, one of the most popular prescription drugs used to combat them seems to be in short supply in our area.
According to anecdotal reports, few local pharmacies have Tamiflu in stock at all, let alone an ample supply.
Jason Amaduka of Avalon Professional Pharmacy in Bowie told WNEW last week that he’d noticed a lot of people calling in trying to find the medicine.
“We’ve been very lucky,” he said. “… I was able to get some shipment to help alleviate the scarcity that we have in the area.”
Genentech, the maker of Tamiflu, says it has “produced sufficient supply of all Tamiflu formulations for a severe flu season” but explains that spot shortages can also occur in hard-hit areas.
“According to the CDC, influenza activity is continuing to increase in the U.S, and, as such, we are beginning to see increased demand in some parts of the country,” the company stated in a news release.
There are other prescription medications available to help lessen the length and severity of the illness, as well, including Relenza and Rapivab (peramivir).
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