BY | January 12, 2013

Flu outbreak 2013 in USA has affected 47 states as CDC flu map shows health emergency across the country. The United States is in the grip of influenza, which has reached epidemic proportions, with 7.3 percent of deaths last week caused by pneumonia and the flu.

The Mayor of Boston––which had already witnessed ten-fold jump from last year’s total reported case––had on Wednesday declared a public health emergency. Health authorities say a virulent strain has caused the number of flu cases to surge earlier than usual.

Hospitals around the country have scrambled to find additional space to treat the ill. They are overflowing with patients and in some cases, for example, in Illinois, they have had to turn them away.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said the city would begin offering free flu vaccinations on Saturday in an effort to check the spread.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the figure of 7.3 per cent death is above the epidemic threshold of 7.2 per cent.

The flu season typically picks up in December, builds to a peak in January or February and fades away by late March or early April.

Nine of the 10 regions of the United States had ‘elevated’ flu. Only the Southwest and California region, had ‘normal’ flu activity last week.

The CDC report said that 24 states and New York City experienced ‘high activity’ in flu-like illnesses last week. In 16 states flu activity was moderate, while 10 states reported low or minimal flu activity.

According to CDS Friday report, quoting scientists, the vaccine against the flu strains is 62 per cent effective. This is ‘moderate’ effectiveness and means that 38 per cent who receive the vaccine are exposed to the virus. Yet experts recommend vaccination for everyone over six months of age.

They are of the view that even if it does not prevent flu, it can reduce the severity of the illness, prevent pneumonia and other life-threatening results of flu.

A Gallup Poll released on Friday found that 3.2 per cent of Americans reported having the flu when they were asked the question in December, higher than in any December since Gallup began asking the question in 2008. The rate is more typical of February, when normally it peaks.

Gallup incidentally found Hispanics more likely than any other ethnic group to be stricken as 9.2 reported that they had the flu in December. People aged 30 to 44 were the age group most likely to report the flu in December.

A total of 20 children have died from flu, up two from the previous week. That compares to 34 during the full 2011-2012 flu season, which was unusually mild, and 282 during the severe 2009-2010 season.

In North Carolina, flu activity has been recorded at the highest levels in a decade with 14 deaths.

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