No Local Flu Outbreak So Far, Officials Urge Prevention
North Andover Health Department is urging people to get the flu vaccine and stay home when sick.
On Wednesday, Boston Mayor Tom Menino declared a health emergency in that city due to the rise in reported flu cases there.
So far this season, there have been more than 700 cases of the flu reported in Boston, which is 10 times the average number seen last year, reports Sara Jacobi of Boston Patch.
Boston's situation is not unique. The Centers for Disease Control says that flu outbreaks are high for this time of the season, and there is "widespread activity" of flu cases in Massachusetts.
North Andover has not seen such a high volume of flu cases, but local officials are keeping an eye on the town's situation and preparing.
"So far we've only had four reported cases in town, so we can't acknowledge that it's seen a spike," North Andover Health Director Susan Sawyer said.
That doesn't include people who aren't diagnosed by a doctor and simply just stay home assuming they have the flu. And with the Merrimack Valley being home to many commuters into Boston, the flu could travel here quickly.
Children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with asthma, diabetes and heart disease are especially at risk when it comes to the flu.
Sometimes people think they have the flu and they actually have something else, Sawyer added. Norovirus causes vomiting and diarrhea and is often mistaken for the flu.
Communities that have not seen the explosion of flu cases are hoping to prevent it, as there are still eight weeks left in the flu season.
"I would urge everyone who didn't get a flu shot to get one," Sawyer said, also urging anyone who is sick to stay home.
The North Andover Health Department is out of flu vaccines, but you can ask your doctor for one, and here are some places in North Andover that offer the vaccine: