Influenza Numbers Are Up in Boston

The Boston Public Health Commission issued an advisory Tuesday.

Wash your hands! It’s not only sage advice from your mother, but it’s also a lifesaving practice.

The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) has been tracking what they say is “a rise in flu activity over the past several weeks” in and around Boston. Now, officials want to remind residents to take the basic precautions necessary to avoid getting or spreading the illness.

So far, there’s been 728 documented influenza cases reported to BPHC, and since October, hundreds of people have visited Boston-area ERs for flu-related symptoms. According to the BPHC:

Additionally, 23% of those cases have resulted in hospitalization, and there have been 4 deaths, the majority of which were individuals with underlying medical conditions. Influenza A (H3N2) accounts for most of the laboratory-confirmed cases in Boston. Neighborhoods with especially high rates of emergency department visits for influenza-like illness include the South End, Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park.

“I encourage everyone to do their part to help reduce the influenza rates we’re seeing in our neighborhoods,” Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement. “We want all Boston residents to stay healthy and safe during this season, so please utilize resources by the Boston Public Health Commission.”

Protecting yourself and your loved ones from the flu can be done in a number of different ways including: getting a flu shot; covering your nose and mouth with a tissue every time you cough or sneeze; washing your hands; and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Dr. Huy Nguyen, interim executive director of BPHC, says that getting a flu shot is important even though a CDC study showed relatively low vaccine effectiveness against this season’s influenza A (H3N2). “It’s important for everyone six months of age or older to get the influenza vaccine, and if you haven’t done it yet, it’s not too late,” he says. “Getting your flu vaccine remains the best way to protect yourself and those around you from this serious illness, even if this year’s vaccine may not be an ideal match for the major strain we are seeing right now. It will still prevent some disease including serious influenza-related hospitalizations and can also protect you from flu strains we usually see later in the season, such as influenza B.”

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For the full flu report, click here.