A nationwide flu outbreak that has already caused the deaths of at least 18 children and clogged emergency rooms in many states is provoking great alarm across the country.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that this year’s flu season is expected to be one of the worst the country has seen in 10 years. Not even at its peak yet, the season “is stacking up to be moderate to severe,” Tom Skinner, a spokesperson for the CDC, said.
“In the past 10 years we have seen just two or three like it,” he added, according to the New York Daily News.
Experts add that this year’s flu season is the earliest the country has seen in at least a decade.
As of Tuesday this week, 41 states have reported “widespread outbreaks.” States such as Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota and New York have been particularly hard-hit.
Earlier this week, The Huffington Post reported that overcrowded emergency rooms in Chicago, unable to cope with the influx of flu patients, have recently been forced to turn people away. Julie Morita, medical director for the Chicago Department of Public Health’s immunization program, told DNAinfo.com Chicago that the number of flu cases in the city is growing.
On Wednesday, Boston mayor Thomas Menino declared a “public health emergency because of a sharp rise” in flu cases across the city,” NBC News reports. Seven hundred confirmed cases have already been reported in Boston since the season began in October.