National flu outbreak widens … and worsens

National flu outbreak widens … and worsens

The national flu epidemic is getting worse by the day: On Wednesday, Boston — with a population of at least 600,000 — declared a public health emergency after the virus killed more than a dozen people.

At least three more states — Montana, South Dakota and Arizona — are now reporting widespread flu, bringing the total to 44 states. And the CDC says the percentage of people going to the hospital for treatment of flu symptoms has doubled in the past month.

The emergency in Boston was declared after confirmed cases of flu reached 700. There were just 70 at this time last year. Across the state, 18 patients have died.

“In the last two weeks alone we’ve doubled our number,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “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.”

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