Huffpost DC

D.C. Flu Season 2013: As Maryland Sees Surge In Cases, No Epidemic In Nation's Capital Yet, Officials Say

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D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said there was no evidence of a flu epidemic in D.C. as of Thursday.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said there was no evidence of a flu epidemic in D.C. as of Thursday.

WASHINGTON -- How is the nation's capital handling what is likely to be the worst flu season in a decade, in which vaccines are in short supply?

According to The Washington Post, 310 flu cases have been reported in the District of Columbia so far during this season, while 97 were reported last season.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) tells the Post that while emergency rooms and hospitals in neighboring Maryland have been swamped with flu patients , there's no evidence of a flu epidemic in D.C. as of Thursday:

Speaking to reporters in the John A. Wilson Building, Gray said the D.C. Department of Health is closely tracking flu cases but has yet to see a sharp up tick in cases.

“We don’t know of an epidemic in the city at this stage,” Gray said. “There have been no suggestions we need any changes around how we are addressing it at this point.”

Along these lines, Dan Stessel, spokesman for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, tells The Huffington Post that Metro's "standard cleaning practices are in effect. Nothing extraordinary planned at this time."

In previous years WMATA has given out hand sanitizer. This year, Stessel says, Metro advises rail and bus passengers to "wash your hands."

Other transit authorities, like Boston's Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, have taken more aggressive measures. Eighteen people have died from the flu in Massachusetts so far this season, leading Boston's mayor, Thomas M. Menino, to declare a public health emergency.

MBTA has put new anti-viral measures in place. For example, cleaning crews have been asked to take extra care in keeping grab bars and hand straps especially clean.

WHDH-TV/7 News reports that this health-promoting message is playing on loudspeakers at Boston transit stations, as well:

“During flu season, customers are reminded to wash hands often with soap and water and cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing. Thank you for riding the T.”

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