Flu and respiratory ailments are filling hospital emergency rooms with patients complaining of shortness of breath, elevated temperatures and hacking coughs.
Dr. Sheila Rhodes, who was on duty last night in the emergency room at Franklin Square Hospital, said that nearly three-quarters of yesterday's admissions were related to respiratory ailments.
"There's been a marked increase here," Rhodes said.
"We've been [busy] for the last week. It's hitting children and the elderly hard, but it's affecting every age. We're seeing high fevers, 103 and 104 degrees," said Joan Smith, an emergency room nurse at St. Joseph Hospital in Towson.
"It's crazy here, hectic. There are two- and three-hour waits," said Latanya Carter, a clerk at the pediatric department at Mercy Medical Center in downtown Baltimore.
Belva Bailey, a Sinai Hospital nurse, described the emergency room there as "swamped" with flu and flu-related cases.
Johns Hopkins, Union Memorial, Veterans Administration, North Arundel General and St. Agnes hospitals all reported heavier than normal caseloads of patients with flu and respiratory ailments.
Some people chose to treat themselves and visited local pharmacies for cures.
"There's a lot of stuff going around," said Sue Malerk, a Rite Aid pharmacist at the Cranbrook Shopping Center in Cockeysville. She said sales of cough medicines have been brisk over the last week.