Flu Spreading in At Least 29 States: Boston, MA Hit Especially Hard; Illinois Spiking

Boston declared a public health emergency Wednesday as the city tried to deal with a harsh flu season and the state reported 18 flu-related deaths so far.

Google Flu Search Activity: Estimates were made using a model that proved accurate when compared to historic official flu activity data. Data current through January 9, 2013 …

Google flu trends (United States).

Google flu trends (Illinois).

Google flu trends (Massachusetts).

Twenty-nine state reporting high levels of influenza. On Google flu trends, Illinois close matches the national trends.

In Boston, locally there have been about 700 cases of flu, compared to 70 for the same time last year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, influenza activity continues to increase in the United States and most of the country is now experiencing high levels of influenza-like-illness (ILI), according to CDC’s latest FluView report. “Reports of influenza-like-illness (ILI) are nearing what have been peak levels during moderately severe seasons,” according to Dr. Joe Bresee. CDC continues to recommend influenza vaccination and antiviral treatment when appropriate at this time.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck advises the public on the current flu situation in Illinois.

“We have been and continue to see an increase in flu activity across the state. The flu strain that is predominately circulating this year is typically more severe, with more hospitalizations and deaths. From the beginning of October through the end of December we’ve seen almost 150 people admitted to hospital intensive care units (ICU) with influenza like illness. There have also been six flu-related deaths of ICU patients. This compares to last year at this time when there were only two ICU hospitalizations and no deaths.”

“Due to the increased flu activity, many people are going to hospital emergency departments. So much so that some hospitals have needed to direct all but the most critical patients to nearby hospitals because they do not have enough room or possibly staff to see patients. In most cases we recommend contacting a health professional before going to an emergency department if you are experiencing flu symptoms. The majority of people suffering from the flu simply need to stay home, rest and let the flu run its course. Typically only people with severe respiratory illness who have trouble breathing need to visit a hospital emergency department.”

“It is not too late to be vaccinated, to get a flu shot. The flu season normally runs through March and sometimes later. If you do get the flu, the vaccine can also reduce the amount of time you’re sick and the severity of symptoms. By getting vaccinated, you can also help protect infants, the elderly and those with chronic diseases who are at greatest risk for complications due to the flu.”
Many pharmacies offer flu vaccinations, as well as local health departments, some physician offices and health clinics. To find where you can receive a flu vaccination, contact your local health department or log onto the flu vaccine finder at http://www.flu.gov/#.

To reduce the spread of influenza and other contagious diseases, it is always important to practice the 3 C’s …
Clean – properly wash your hands frequently
Cover – cover your cough and sneeze
Contain – contain your germs by staying home if you are sick

Google Flu Trends is a web service operated by Google, which provides up-to-date estimates of influenza activity for more than 25 countries. By aggregating Google search queries, accurate predictions can be made about flu activity. This project was first launched in 2008 by Google.org to help predict outbreaks of flu.

See also …
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Flu View …

Illinois Department of Public Health …

Google Flu Trends — google.org/flutrends/

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