News / Health

US Flu Outbreak Earlier, Spreading Faster

US Flu Outbreak Earlier, Spreading Fasteri
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.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs