NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

January 14, 2013

Taking stock of a terrible flu season

This flu season is shaping up to be a tough one, according to public health officials in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

While the flu season usually doesn’t get going until February, cases already are common in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The Centers for Disease Control report the flu is widespread in 42 states.

This year’s influenza strain seems particularly severe. In Massachusetts, 18 deaths have been reported so far. New Hampshire has seen 13 die from flu-related illnesses in the past month. In Boston, there have been 700 reported cases of flu this season compared to just 70 all last year.

In Newburyport, Anna Jaques Hospital has seen 60 confirmed cases this year, compared to none as of this time last year.

Health officials recommend that everyone get a flu shot — and soon. They also advise covering one’s coughs and sneezes and washing hands frequently. That’s good advice.

Symptoms of the flu include fever or chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headache and fatigue.

If you come down with the flu, health officials advise that you stay home and avoid contact with others. Get rest and plenty of fluids. The very young, the elderly, pregnant women and those with asthma should contact their health care providers to see if they should be examined more closely.

Flu outbreaks are notoriously variable in their intensity. This one looks to be a rough ride. It is important to take proper precautions and follow public health officials’ advice so we can all get through this safely.

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