Influenza has officially arrived in Maine this season, health officials said Monday.

The flu was confirmed last week through lab tests in a young adult from Aroostook County and a teenager from Penobscot County, according to a public health alert issued Monday by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Neither patient was vaccinated, had traveled recently, or required hospitalization.

A long-term care facility in Penobscot County reported an outbreak of influenza on Oct. 31, and a strain of seasonal flu was confirmed in an employee and a resident at the facility last Friday, the alert stated.

Three strains of the flu are circulating nationally. The flu vaccine is likely to offer good protection against all of them, according to health officials.

Yearly flu vaccination should begin in September, according to the U.S. CDC. Health officials are urging everyone over 6 months of age to get vaccinated against the illness.

The vaccine, available as both a shot and a nasal spray, takes effect in about two weeks. How well it protects against influenza varies from season to season and can depend on the individual.

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.

Jackie Farwell

I'm the health editor for the Bangor Daily News, a Bangor native, a UMaine grad, and a weekend crossword warrior. I never get sick of writing about Maine people, geeking out over health care data, and...