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New York, Boston declare public health emergency as killer flu sweeps US

As the seasonal chill blankets some cities across the US, illnesses and diseases are also creeping their contagion under the stealth of winter. Two of these are a deadly strain of the flu and a mutant strain of the STD gonorrhea.

According to Blackdoctors.org, Boston declared a public health emergency on Wednesday as the city tries to contain an outbreak of a new strain of flu responsible for 18 deaths so far.

Mayor Thomas Menino says his city has seen an alarming rise in flue cases this season - 700 compared to 70 for last winter. But Massachusetts is not the only state under a siege. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is reporting that in four weeks, the percentage of cases has reportedly risen from 2.8 to 5.6. Compare that to the 2.2 percent rise during the 2011-2012 flu seasons, and we steep increase has health officials scrambling to issue flu vaccines to the public.

However, according to ABC 7 News, many pharmacies are running out of the vaccine and Rite Aid has taken to moving their supply around from store to store to meet the demands. Despite this measure they say people should call ahead before coming in. Ashley Flowers, spokesperson for the national store, told ABC that a new supply of the flu vaccine is expected in stores as early as next week.

A helpful tool you can use to find an outlet near you with the vaccine, is HealthMap Vaccine Finder, which includes 40,000 locations across the US.

The CDC is reporting that the overall number of hospitalized cases in the US is 8.1 per 100,000 people, which is very high for this time of year.

One of these cases which ended tragically is 6-year-old Tahila Johnson of Pleasant Grove, Dallas, Texas. Little Tahila had reportedly complained of having aches and pain all over and was taken to the Dallas Regional Medical Center on Monday night.

According to WFAA-TV (Channel 8), Tahila’s father Earl Johnson said she was sent back home around 10:00 p.m. with Tylenol, Zyrtec and a diagnosis of the flu, without even testing her for the virus. She was found dead in her bed the following morning. Considering her age and the deadly flu epidemic sweeping states, why did the hospital send the child home?

Three years ago, the N1HI virus wreaked havoc in Texas and other states across the US and this outbreak may be the worst in a decade, says ABC 7 News’ medical expert Dr. Richard Besser.

Though flu cases has been recorded in 47 states, with only California, Mississippi and Hawaii escaping the outbreak, the CDC is now saying that the disease may be peaking. That didn’t stop New York Governor Andrew Cuomo from declaring a public health emergency on Saturday. This order allowed pharmacists to administer the vaccine to those as young as six months to 18-year-olds. Before, pharmacist could only immunize residents 18 years and older.

Meanwhile, another contagious disease is silently spreading. Scientists have reportedly recently discovered a strain of gonorrhea in North America that is incurable. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is understandable worried for this new strain is immune to all current medication previously used to treat this common STD.

Gonorrhea is the second most common sexually transmitted disease in the world and had been, before now, very treatable with the antibiotic Cephalosporin. Now, patients are found to be still infected after taking that antibiotic. In a study in Canada, researchers say that 6.7 percent of those taking Cephalosporin, still had Gonorrhea a week later and that 1 in 15 had the mutated STD.

If this continues, the health ramifications are staggering. Though gonorrhea is a common STD, left untreated it can wreak havoc on our health. Symptoms include itching, stomach pains and burning while urinating. The long term effects are even more devastating and can cause infertility in women.

A reported 700,000 Americans are infected with gonorrhea every year so one cannot stress enough to practice safe sex at all times. Get tested but remember testing cannot be used as prevention. Condoms, dental dams for oral sex, and being ever so discerning of your sex partners, are paramount. Know who you’re having sex with, down to their medical records.

Sounds unromantic? See how romantic you can be when you’re unhealthy.