News / Health

US Flu Outbreak Earlier, Spreading Faster

US Flu Outbreak Earlier, Spreading Fasteri
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January 11, 2013 4:45 PM
The United States is in the grip of a widespread flu outbreak, with crises in Chicago and Boston. An estimated 36,000 people die of flu in the United States each year and it kills some 500,000 people annually around the world. VOA Correspondent Cindy Saine reports on what doctors say is an unusually early and busy flu season in the U.S.

US Flu Outbreak Earlier, Spreading Faster

Cindy Saine
The United States is in the grip of a widespread flu outbreak, with crises in Chicago and Boston. An estimated  36,000 people die of flu in the United States each year and it kills some 500,000 people annually around the world.  Doctors say it is an unusually early and busy flu season in the U.S.
 
Massachusetts is one of 41 U.S. states now reporting widespread cases of influenza. Tom Menino is the mayor of Boston, the state's biggest city.
 

“I’m declaring a public health emergency in the city of Boston. The latest reports show an increasingly tough flu season," he said. 
 
A hospital in eastern Pennsylvania set up a special tent outside the emergency room to deal with the wave of flu patients.
 
Several hospitals in Chicago have had to turn patients away and send them to other hospitals in the area.
 
Dr. Marc Siegel, of George Washington University Hospital in Washington, says seasonal influenza is an international phenomenon. It usually breaks out in the coldest season of the year.  
 
"It generally moves through Eastern Europe, then to Western Europe and then kind of spreads westward to the United States. Now with international travel, we often see it spread everywhere much quicker," he said. 
 
Dr. Siegel describes the typical symptoms of flu. "So influenza generally gives you a muscle ache, headache, high fevers. It can be associated with a sore throat, runny nose, cough, but any number of other viruses can give you similar symptoms that might not be quite as severe," he said.
 
Influenza Pandemics of the 20th Century

  • 1918 Spanish Flu: Killed more than 500,000 people in the U.S., and 20 million to 50 million people worldwide.
  • 1957 Asian Flu: Killed roughly 70,000 people in the U.S.
  • 1968 Hong Kong Flu: First detected in Hong Kong, this virus caused roughly 34,000 deaths in the U.S.
Doctors say if flu symptoms are severe, such as shortness of breath, patients should see a doctor.  And they recommend a flu vaccination as the best protection against the illness.
 
Doctors warn that small children and the elderly are the most vulnerable to serious complications from the flu.
 
A six-year-old girl from Dallas died just hours after her grandparents took her to the emergency room with flu-like symptoms and she was seen and released.  
 
Veleta Johnson is her grandmother. “They looked down her throat, checked her ears, vitals were all good, said she had the flu and told me what to do to make sure she felt better," she said. 
 
Doctors say they do not know if this unusually early flu season has peaked yet, or if this year’s outbreak will get worse.

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Comments
     
by: NVO from: USA
January 11, 2013 10:14 AM
All you need is vitamin D. NOT some New World Order propaganda flu shot. It's a SHAM!! How many of you BLISSFULLY IGNORANT people will be corralled into a pharmacy to "get your flu shot". How many really know what the regime is pumping you up with? Beware of this and PROJECT ESCHELON!!!


by: Geetha Mohan from: West Malaysia
January 10, 2013 8:08 PM
Firstly flu is due to lack of immune system. I am no doctor but taking spices in tablet form will help. Prolong use of cold drinks and wrong diet can lead to weakness of body. My advise take a general note of life style of people.

In Response

by: Makani from: Hawaii
January 11, 2013 3:42 PM
Calm down Meggie. Malaysia was simply giving advice not shoving it down your throat. Perhaps a little more layers of clothes are in order?

In Response

by: Meggie from: Boston
January 11, 2013 9:00 AM
Get over yourself you self righteous clod. I am very healthy normally and eat correct vegetarian meals with tons of supplements and I was still taken down by the flu. You don't have severe cold weather in Malaysia so you do not have that factor. When it is bitterly cold your body's resistance is compromised.

In Response

by: Sue Gee from: USA
January 11, 2013 3:57 AM
Which spices in tablet form do you recommend to strengthen immune system and prevent flu?

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