Boston flu cases surge

The mayor of Boston recently issued a public health emergency as influenza cases in the city rose to 10-times the number reported at the same time last year.

Boston is not unique in struggling against a surge in flu cases. Across the United States, public health officials are scrambling to cope with a rising tide of patients. They believe an unusually virulent strain has caused the typical rise in cases to occur earlier and be far greater than expectations, according to Reuters.

U.S. hospitals are struggling to find enough beds to treat the ill and many have reported having to turn patients away. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said the city planned to offer free vaccinations against the flu beginning this weekend.

"The latest reports show an increasingly tough flu season," Menino said, Reuters reports. "We are less than halfway through the flu season."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that the number of reports of flu-like-symptoms in the United States has doubled in the last month. The CDC does not track the total number of flu cases in the country because many with symptoms do not seek treatment. This year the A(H3) influenza strain is appearing to predominated. It is generally more severe than most and may lead to a longer flu season.