Authorities in New York State have declared a public health emergency, as the United States is experiencing one of its worst flu outbreaks in years. The announcement came from New York State Governor Andre Cuomo, declaring an emergency after the rapid outbreak of the influenza virus.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the spread of influenza has reached near epidemic levels, with the flu virus being just above the "epidemic threshold." At present, 47 states are said to be affected by the flu outbreak, with widespread activity, the number jumping in just a week from 41 with the only states not reporting any flu activity being Hawaii, Mississippi and California.
So far there have been some 2,257 flu hospitalizations, with cases of pneumonia being recorded as well, and according to the CDC, 18 children have already died from flu infections, while last week, 7.3 percent of the deaths that occurred in the US were from either the flu or pneumonia.
The CDC has said that the influenza season has arrived earlier than expected with nine of the 10 US regions being put on an “elevated” flu activity status.
It has been reported that many of the infected have been noted to be carrying the H3N2 strain of the flu, which, in cases, can be fatal, with the number of deaths increasing from week to week.
The New York governor’s announcement of a public health emergency followed nearly 20,000 cases being reported, almost four times the number that was reported last year. With the announcement, flu vaccinations will now be more readily accessible, while vaccinations themselves will be able to be performed by pharmacists.
Meanwhile, Boston, which declared a public health emergency last week, has seen a staggering number of cases, with 700 reported cases of the flu, up from last year’s 70 cases. So far, four reported deaths have occurred with free flu vaccinations being offered in the city.
The CDC has said that this season, flu vaccinations have been 62 percent effective, that is in more than half the cases, but added that even with vaccination it is possible that one can still get sick and so necessary precautions must be taken.
Experts have said that with the high number of cases being reported and the nationwide activity of the flu, it is likely that the outbreak may have peaked.