“The US is experiencing its deadliest flu outbreak in a decade, prompting the city of Boston to declare a public health emergency after the virus killed more than a dozen people and left hundreds struggling to fight off the illness.
From Florida to Maine, emergency rooms across the nation are flooded with patients experiencing symptoms of the flu. Last January, Boston had seen only 70 cases of influenza. This year, the numbers have reached 700, with at least 18 dead in Massachusetts – and the number of cases is still on the rise.
“In the last two weeks alone we’ve doubled our number,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, tells CBS News. “So, if we continue at this rate to see new cases, we’ll have an explosion of flu in the city of Boston. We really need to get ahead of it at this point in time.”
Most states haven’t seen an outbreak this bad since the swine flu plagued the US in 2009. But in some regions, the most recent influenza outbreak has already surpassed the H1N1 outbreak by creating a high number of sick and dying patients.
Nationwide, the number of flu cases has more than doubled in the past month, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared 44 states are experiencing a widespread influenza. Hospitals are overwhelmed with patients, with the Lehigh Valley Hospital in Pennsylvania seeing as many as 100 new patients a day that have flu-like symptoms.
Even south Florida has seen an unusually large number of cases, and the illness most recently killed a 6-year-old girl in Texas.
This year’s severe flu season has created a shortage of Tamiflu, which is used to treat symptoms of influenza. Roche Holding AG, the company that produces the drug, told wholesalers that there would be a delay in Tamiflu shipments. Across the nation, pharmacies have the liquid version of Tamiflu on backorder, prompting compounding pharmacies to start making their own versions of the drug…..”