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Published On: Thu, Jan 10th, 2013

Boston flu outbreak prompts Mayor Menino to declare a public health emergency

Public domain photo/ECeDee via wikimedia commons

Public domain photo/ECeDee via wikimedia commons

Since Oct.1, the city of Boston, MA has seen some 700 confirmed influenza cases, which represents a ten-fold increase when compared to the 70 cases confirmed all of last flu season, prompting Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino to declare a  public health emergency, according to a City of Boston press release Jan. 9.

“This is the worst flu season we’ve seen since 2009, and people should take the threat of flu seriously,” Mayor Menino said.

This is exemplified by the fact that four percent of all emergency room visits are now because of the flu. A quarter of all the flu cases seen thus far have required hospitalization.

In addition, at least four elderly people have succumbed to the disease in the city. Statewide, the Massachusettts Department of Health is reporting 18 flu-related deaths.

In the battle with the flu, Mayor Menino and the Boston Public Health Commission are working with community health centers around the city to offer free vaccination clinics this weekend. More than 90 percent of the flu viruses found in testing this year are well-matched to the vaccine.

The strains covered in the 2012-2013 influenza vaccine include A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus, A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2)-like virus and  B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like virus.

Hospitals and health care facilities in the state are beginning to limit visitors in an effort to curb the outbreak.

The flu outbreak this season is not limited to Boston or Massachusetts in general, instead increased influenza activity is being seen nationawide.

The Boston Public Health Commission is urging people to contact their primary care doctor to get a flu vaccination, which can be administered as a shot or as a nasal spray.  Everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated against influenza.

In addition, health authorities offer the following tips to avoid the flu and to stop the spread:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after coughing or sneezing. If water is not nearby, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs can spread this way.
  • As much as possible, avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you have a fever or feel ill, stay home.

 

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He regularly writes about infectious disease news for Examiner.com and administers the Outbreak News section of The Global Dispatch.

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Have Your Say
  1. [...] three days after Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino declared a  public health emergency for that city because of the flu outbreak, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo did the same for the whole state of [...]

  2. Desperate to improve the damaged image of our Mayor for life, the man famous for being famous, Tom Menino, the $1 million PR Department has now moved on to damage control. Amidst the worst flu outbreak since 2009, the Mayor has taken the lead on the subject by declaring an emergency; the fact that this is utterly meaningless is lost on the no-info voter.

  3. [...] the current winter epidemic is shaping up to be something pretty terrible. Boston is officially an emergency zone, with more than 700 reported cases and 18 deaths so far. The South is already racking up flu deaths, [...]

  4. [...] Denham (R-Calif.) already got his flu shot, tweeting a photo earlier this week, and he and …Boston flu outbreak prompts Mayor Menino to declare a public health emergencyThe Global Dispatch22 Flu Related Deaths in SC So FarWLTX.comWith crowded ERs and some cancelled [...]

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