KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Boston Declares Flu Emergency As Viruses Spread Across The Nation

Boston officials report 700 cases of flu, 10 times more than last year.

The New York Times: Flu Widespread, Leading A Range Of Winter's Ills
The country is in the grip of three emerging flu or flulike epidemics: an early start to the annual flu season with an unusually aggressive virus, a surge in a new type of norovirus, and the worst whooping cough outbreak in 60 years. And these are all developing amid the normal winter highs for the many viruses that cause symptoms on the "colds and flu" spectrum (McNeil Jr. and Seelye, 1/9).

USA Today: 700 Cases Of Flu Prompt Boston To Declare Emergency
The Boston declaration is meant to drive home the message about the danger of flu and the necessity of getting vaccinated, said Nick Martin, communications director at the city Public Health Commission. … The hospitals in Boston have been overwhelmed, said Jim Heffernan, chief of primary care at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. His hospital is full, he said, the emergency room "overflowing because there aren't enough places to put people. It just snowballs" (Weise and Eversley, 1/10).

Reuters: Boston Declares Health Emergency Amid U.S. Flu Outbreak
In Illinois last week, large numbers of sick people overwhelmed some hospitals, and 24 facilities had to turn away some sick people, more than triple the seven hospitals that turned patients away in the same week last year. ... In North Carolina, flu activity has been recorded at the highest levels in a decade with 14 deaths. Many hospitals there have tightened restrictions on visitors. ... Public health officials urged people to stay home from work or school if they become ill, but not necessarily to rush to the hospital, particularly if they are between the ages of 5 and 65 and otherwise healthy (Malone, 1/9).

Boston Globe: Mayor Menino Declares Public Health Emergency In Boston Because Of Flu Outbreak 
The good news is that the strains of flu virus in circulation this year were anticipated, and 91 percent of the viruses found in testing this year are well-matched to the vaccine, said Kevin Cranston, director of the DPH Bureau of Infectious Disease. There are ample supplies of the shot, he added. ... Since seniors face a higher likelihood of developing pneumonia and other life-threatening flu complications, one nursing home in the area has taken the drastic step of asking family members not to visit until flu rates subside (Kotz and Conaboy, 1/9).


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