Flu season off to early start, 18 deaths recorded
BOSTON (WHDH) -- State officials are reporting 18 flu-related deaths in Massachusetts already this season.
The city of Boston declared a public health emergency Wednesday due to the growing number of flu cases.
“Today, I am declaring a public health emergency in the city of Boston,” said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino on Wednesday. “Boston has already seen about 700 confirmed cases of the flu since October 1. That’s ten times the amount of total cases we saw all of last year.”
This year is not expected to be the worst flu season ever, but state health officials said it’s nothing to sneeze at.
“We’ve seen 18 deaths reported to us so far this season associated with influenza like illness, overwhelmingly amongst oldest individuals, which is not a-typical,” said Kevin Cranston of the Mass. Department of Public Health.
State officials gave the Massachusetts public health council and update on this year’s flu season, which they say started early. This season, which started in December, is predicted to be moderately severe compared to the last flu seasons.
“What we’re hearing from clinicians all over the state is that the strains of flu that people are presenting with is quite severe and we’re seeing rates of hospitalization higher, certainly higher than the last two years. And enough to give us all concern,” said Cranston.
Emergency room doctors at Boston Medical Center have seen nearly 300 flu patients since the outbreak began and almost half had to be admitted.
Melrose-Wakefield Hospital is seeing their fair share of flu patients as well.
“We are probably seeing -- I’m going to guess -- around 30 people a day who have symptoms of the flu,” said Dr. Steven Sbardella, Melrose-Wakefield Hospital.
This year’s flu is said to be widespread across the state and around the country, but state officials said you can minimize chances of coming down with it by getting a flu vaccination. Cranston said it is never too late to vaccinate.
The mayor's office said Boston is working with health care centers to offer free flu vaccines and hopes to set up locations where people can get vaccinations.
Boston has confirmed 700 cases of the flu so far. There were only 70 confirmed cases in the city last year.
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