The flu has officially arrived in Maine, state health officials announced Friday.
The season’s first case was confirmed in an adult over age 60 from Lincoln County, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said in a health alert. The patient, who was unvaccinated against the illness, tested positive for the influenza A virus on Oct. 16. The individual required no hospitalization, hadn’t traveled recently and is recovering at home, according to the alert.
Both influenza A and B strains are circulating nationally. This year’s flu vaccine is likely to offer good protection, according to Maine CDC.
Health officials urge everyone over 6 months old to get vaccinated against the illness, including those who were vaccinated last season.
The vaccine, available as both a shot and a nasal spray, takes full effect about two weeks after it is administered but offers some protection right away.
How well the vaccine protects against influenza varies from season to season and can depend on the individual. The vaccine is reformulated each year to match emerging strains of the illness.
To further reduce your chances of catching and spreading the illness this season, wash your hands regularly, cover your coughs and stay home if you’re sick.
The fevers, chills and body aches that typify the flu season can begin as early as October. The illness’ spread typically peaks in January and February but can continue into May.
Maine’s last flu season started late and proved relatively mild, while the illness spread quickly during the 2012-13 season, with 168 outbreaks statewide and the death of a child in central Maine from the illness.
Symptoms of the flu virus include fever, muscle aches, headache, cough, sore throat and runny nose. The illness spreads from person to person primarily by coughing and sneezing.