BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A health warning--a severe strain of bronchitis is spreading throughout parts of Maryland and the U.S.
Amy Yensi with why doctors are concerned.
Patients are taking longer to recover, and if left untreated, it could lead to pneumonia.
A spike in bronchitis cases in Howard County is causing concern. A more severe strain of the respiratory disease has taken hold in the last two weeks.
Dr. Stephen Geller at the Centennial Medical Group says early detection is key.
"We had one patient who had bronchitis and then developed into pneumonia, so that's one thing we want to try to prevent happening," said Geller.
He says children, the elderly and those with lung illnesses--like asthma and emphysema--are more at risk. Symptoms include low-grade fever, coughing, congestion and shortness of breath.
More than 10,000 patients have been notified about the stubborn strain.
"I was literally gasping for air. I felt like I had a 200 pound weight on my chest. It was not easy to breathe," said Connor Ferguson
Untreated bronchitis also poses a risk for anyone you come in contact with. When it's airborne, it can easily be spread from one person to the next.
"Protect yourself by doing the things that probably your mother told you to do, which is get enough sleep at night, drink enough fluids to stay hydrated, wash your hands," said Dr. Geller.
If you think you may be sick, doctors are urging you to get checked out immediately.
Doctors believe the change in seasons and fluctuating temperatures may be behind the increase in bronchitis cases.
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