Flu Epidemic Declared in Puerto Rico: Over 900 Hospitalizations and Dozens of Deaths Reported


The Puerto Rico Department of Health has declared an influenza epidemic, with over 900 hospitalizations and 25,900 cases reported since the flu season began in July. This marks the first flu epidemic in the US territory since 2016, according to officials.

As of November 4, the season has seen 42 confirmed deaths, with nine other deaths under investigation, as reported by Dr. Melissa Marzán, an epidemiologist with the health department.

“The current flu season started above the alert threshold,” stated Marzán, noting that there have been nearly six times as many cases this flu season compared to this time last year.

To declare an epidemic, Marzán explains that certain criteria must be met, including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s monitoring system reaching a high level. CDC data confirms that Puerto Rico’s flu activity is currently high.

“This is not the time to be alarmed, but to prepare to help prevent the increase in the spread of this virus,” stated Secretary of Health Dr. Carlos Mellado López in a statement. The Puerto Rico Department of Health also announced plans to begin a mass vaccination program.

“We already have experience in combatting the disease. We know that influenza has a period where transmission is usually high. If we do our part, get vaccinated, and protect ourselves, we will stop the disease,” Mellado López added.

The majority of flu cases seem to be affecting children and young people, with more than 13,600 cases recorded among newborns through 19-year-olds, according to the health department. Adults between 20 and 59 years old accounted for over 9,600 cases, while older adults made up about 2,500 cases.

The health department reported a total of 31,710 cases in Puerto Rico’s 2022-23 flu season, resulting in 15 deaths and 1,224 hospitalizations.


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