BLUE HILL — The flu virus is alive and kicking throughout Hancock County.
Five people have been hospitalized in Hancock County this week due to influenza, according to the Maine Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report issued Tuesday by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state of Maine has had five deaths due to the flu this week alone, with a total of 22 deaths for the 2017-2018 season to date, the Maine CDC stated.
“It is widespread, active flu just like the CDC reported,” said Dr. Michael Murnik, a physician at Blue Hill Family Medicine. “We are definitely seeing flu cases. There were two yesterday in my own practice.”
Lest one get confused, because there is a stomach virus that has been hitting Hancock County residents for over a month, the actual flu virus is respiratory.
Flu “hits you hard and fast,” Murnik said. “Total body aches, fevers, cough, frequently runny nose,” are among the symptoms, he said.
If you suspect you have the flu, stay home and “drink tons of fluids,” said Murnik. “Sit propped up in bed.”
Sitting upright will help the congestion drain and will help people breathe easier, the physician said.
Murnik said it is still possible to get the flu even if you’ve gotten a flu shot.
“It takes a couple of weeks to develop the antibodies a flu shot triggers,” Murnik said.
People may be exposed to a flu virus before that occurs. Those who get sick a week after getting the flu shot didn’t get the shot soon enough.
“Nothing’s 100 percent effective; sometimes you get sick anyway,” Murnik said.
This year’s vaccine was a good match for the virus, Murnik said.
Of course, prevention is the best medicine.
When Benjamin Franklin said “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” he was addressing fire safety. But that old adage holds true for viruses too.
“Wash your hands and drink plenty of fluids,” Murnik said. If you’re sick, cover your cough and stay home.
Also, peace will not be with you until the flu season has ended — usually when winter ends.
On Jan. 18, Maine Bishop Robert P. Deeley issued flu prevention protocols for Mass.
“Breaking with custom, parishioners should not shake hands during the sign of peace and will be encouraged to offer a verbal greeting, smile or bow of the head,” Deeley stated in a press release.
Holy Communion will be distributed to hands instead of tongues and there will be no wine service during Communion.