Health Emergency Declared In Boston Over Flu Epidemic

The number of infections of the flu virus H3N2 is ten times higher than last year, say the authorities.

Health officials in Boston have declared an emergency in the city as hospitals struggle to cope with the influenza virus. The epidemic, which has hit the U.S. about a month earlier than last year's strain, and which has U.S. economists worried about the effect it will have on financial growth in the first quarter of 2013, has already hit ten times as many people as it did in 2012. Most at risk are the elderly, and Boston's Mayor, Thomas Menino, urged residents to get innoculated—for their own good as much as stopping the spread of H2N2.

Boston, which will be providing free vaccinations on Saturday, is not the only place dealing with the epidemic. The city of Philadelphia is using just one of the conurbations in Pennsylvania that has set up triage tents to deal with the high number of sufferers. Maine, North Carolina, and Illinois are all recording higher-than-usual statistics of the malady. Just check Google Flu Trends, which has marked the current wave of influenza sweeping the U.S. as Intense. The Sickweather app collates social media data to map the spread of illness—watch the spread of the 2012-13 sneeze in the video below—and very smart people have come up with Twitter- and Facebook-centric methods of tracking illness, too.

Do you think Nate Silver is already working on his 2013 flu map?

[Image from State Library and Archives of Florida]

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