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Boston Declares Health Emergency Due To Massive Flu Outbreak 316

skade88 writes "Boston has seen 10 times more flu cases this year than last. They are now up to 700 cases and counting, with 18 deaths in the city. The city of Boston has declared a public health emergency in the wake of the epidemic. 'The CDC said the proportion of people visiting health care providers with flu-like symptoms climbed from 2.8 percent to 5.6 percent in four weeks. By contrast, the rate peaked at only 2.2 percent during the relatively mild 2011-2012 flu season. The estimated rate of flu-related hospitalizations in the U.S. was 8.1 per 100,000 people, which is high for this time of year, according to Dr. Joe Bresee, chief of the epidemiology and prevention branch of the CDC’s influenza division. The agency’s next advisory will be issued Friday.' As previously discussed on Slashdot it would also be nice for your friends and coworkers for you to stay home if you are sick."
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Boston Declares Health Emergency Due To Massive Flu Outbreak

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  • Good Advice (Score:3, Informative)

    by masternerdguy ( 2468142 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @06:00PM (#42538337)
    Why do people wait for an epidemic to stay home when they are sick? If you are sick, don't go out! If you do, you are part of the problem.
  • Re:Good Advice (Score:3, Informative)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @06:08PM (#42538453) Journal

    If you are sick, don't go out! If you do, you are part of the problem.

    By the time you're sick (aka showing symptoms), you've already been infectious for at least a day.

    The real solution is to get vaccinated and hope that the pharmaceutical companies guessed correctly about this year's strain.

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @06:08PM (#42538455)

    Here's a fun fact to contemplate. The version wandering the US right now is H3N2. The prevalent strain making the rounds in China is H1N1. How long before it crosses the pacific and starts round two of the process. Folks if you haven't gotten vaccinated against this yet. DO IT NOW! These strains are no fun and the current vaccine is supposedly a good match against the strains most prevalent.

    Which strains were in this year's vaccine?

    Oops, answered my own question: []

    Based on that information and the recommendations of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, the strains selected for inclusion in the 2012-2013 flu vaccines are:
    A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus
    A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2)-like virus
    B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like virus.

  • by kwerle ( 39371 ) <> on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @06:19PM (#42538683) Homepage Journal

    While the CDC does not keep a tab of deaths overall from the flu, it estimates that 24,000 Americans die each year.

    Why doesn't the CDC keep tabs on overall deaths from the flu?
    You can make policy without hard numbers, but you will never know if the policy is effective.

    Huh. []

    Influenza and Pneumonia: 53,692

  • Re:Good Advice (Score:3, Informative)

    by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @06:41PM (#42539079) Homepage Journal

    Yes. That is the very definition of a good serf.


  • Re:Good Advice (Score:4, Informative)

    by niado ( 1650369 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @07:11PM (#42539559)

    The plural of anecdote is not evidence. Provide some actual evidence that more than a tiny minority of workers actually do this. I won't hold my breath.

    I can't find much statistical data on this (the difficulty in conducting a study on these types of activities should be evident), but this survey [] indicates 8% of workers call out "sick" at least twice per summer, "to enjoy the summer weather", while 11% do it about once per year. This is a pretty unrepresentative data point, but read into it what you wish.

  • by SleazyRidr ( 1563649 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @07:20PM (#42539695)

    But it was the anti-vaxxers who reduced the number of people by enough that the transmission rates have gone up. I am vaccinated, but I know that it is not 100% effective. If it's 90% effective and I'm the only person who has it I still have a 10% risk. If everyone around me has also had it my risk drops to 1%. These statistics matter when you start talking about outbreaks and pandemics.

  • Re:Flu shots (Score:3, Informative)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @07:23PM (#42539729) Homepage Journal

    "who get flu shots are still carriers "
    people who get the flu shot can not be carriers. Unless you get some on your hands from someone else and then spread it to a door knob.

    People who get the vaccine can not cause a mutation. depending on the year and strain match.

    I'm not sure you understand how the immune system works.

  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @07:40PM (#42539969)

    Flu shots are mandated for clinical staff by most if not all of the Boston hospitals, and there are a huge number of them - I've counted 11 so far, and I think I'm probably missing one or two:

    Childrens, MGH, Brigham & Womens, Faulkner, Beth Israel, Tufts Medical Center, Spaulding Rehab, Shriners, Mass Eye&Ear, New England Baptist, Veterans Administration Boston...and those are just the ones that are actually in Boston proper.

    Honestly, I think hospitals are part of the problem. They focus illness and weak populations (same with nursing homes and assisted living facilities.) Also, there tends to be huge pressure on clinical staff to report for work even when sick. The medical profession is astoundingly arrogant when it comes to not doing harm to patients...another good example would be the sloppy handwriting doctors use when filling out prescriptions, injuring or killing thousands.

  • by pr0t0 ( 216378 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @08:33PM (#42540511)

    That's actually a half-truth; I get them every three or four years to see if the same thing happens (oh boy). Every time I get a flu shot (here it comes), I get sick.


    Yeah, I know. I don't know what to tell you. It happens every single time, within 24 hours of the shot. Then, inevitably, because it's the wrong strain...I get sick again. I know a lot of people claim this. All I can say is biology and physiology are complex. There must be some kind of historical or environmental factor at play. I've lately decided it's maybe because I had mono once, really bad? Maybe I'm just unlucky and always seem to already have the flu just before the shot. Or maybe (probably) it's not the flu at all, but just flu-like systems brought on by my body's response to the shot. I dunno. It could be psychosomatic, but I was dead-certain it would not happen when I got the shot last year. I had to take the next two and a half days off afterward.

    But I don't advocate that people should not get flu shots. I may be a crackpot, but I'm not crazy. You absolutely should. Even if there is a legitimate biological reason for every person to claim what I just have, it's still a pretty small minority. Get the shot.

    Hey, at least I didn't claim it was a government conspiracy!

  • Re:Good Advice (Score:4, Informative)

    by Farmer Pete ( 1350093 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @01:27PM (#42547763)
    Here is my real life experiences. I'm currently working for state government. We get 13 sick days a year (4hrs a pay period), and we can bank those indefinitely. It's not uncommon for people to have +1000 hours of banked sick time, accumulated over +15 years of service. I'm constantly hearing coworkers making sarcastic comments to other coworkers about how they're not feeling well, and they probably wont be in tomorrow. Comments are complete with fake coughs. These same people are getting +4 weeks of vacation a year, but what's the point in having 1000 hours of sick time if you can't use it? So that's my public sector experience. My private sector experience started with getting 4 sick days a year (.333 days a month). Then, after getting a few promotions, my sick time was removed, and I was switched to a system where I had basically unlimited sick days, within reason. There was more or less an unspoken rule that if you used more than 6 days a year, they would start asking questions. Of course, if you had to be out for 2 weeks after a surgery, they would allow that with no questions asked.
    In both situations, I don't feel like the company was evil. I feel like the State is waaayyy to giving, and with my private company, sick time (or lack thereof) was never an issue for me in the 7 years I worked there. It wasn't even an issue when I only had 4 sick days a year.

Heuristics are bug ridden by definition. If they didn't have bugs, then they'd be algorithms.