Mass. Among States With Highest Rate Of Flu-Like Illness, With Season Just Starting

Dec 6, 2017

It's just the start of the flu season, but the virus has already spread widely across Massachusetts, according to state epidemiologists who track and report the flu to the Centers for Disease Control. 

Nationally, three states, in addition to Massachusetts, are seeing widespread cases of the flu.

Dr. Dan Skiest, of the Infectious Disease Division at Baystate Health, said the vast majority of people haven't been exposed to the virus yet, because it's still early.

“There seems to be an uptick, especially in the last week, in flu-like illnesses,” he said. “And Massachusetts is one of the states with apparently the highest rate thus far.”

Data from October 1 to November 25, 2017, showing laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza and influenza-like illness in Massachusetts.
Credit Mass. Department of Public Health

Skiest said it’s also too soon to tell if the vaccine is a good match to the spreading virus, but he recommends the shot for most people.

“Because there's no downside, and it's only [an] upside,” he said. “Now, they should get it sooner rather than later, because it takes about two weeks for it to become effective.”

Skiest said people can avoid many of the complications associated with the virus by getting the shot.