Boston Doctors Send Warning Amid Intense Flu Season

(NECN: Justin Michaels, Boston) - There have been 18 flu-related deaths reported in Massachusetts so far in 2013 - that's compared to one last year during the whole flu season.

After a mild flu season last year, this year the virus is packing a wallop.

"My whole entire family has had the flu… except for me," Ashley Donahue said.

"I think people are well advised to have gotten the flu shot early on in the season," Anthony Lanci, Jr. said.

"My wife had the flu, my kids had the flu, but I escaped it. I don't have any idea how," Tracey Gallafger said.

So far this season, there are 700 reported cases of the flu in Boston. That's been compared to 70 for the whole flu season last year.

When looking at Massachusetts as a whole, in the last week of December, there were 1,826 confirmed cases of the flu. This time last year there were just six in the same week.

"Patients usually come in feeling like they've been run over by a bus. They basically have body aches, joint aches, they feel feverish, they often times have sweats," said Dr. Charles Pozner of Brigham and Women's Hospital.

At Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, they've seen more flu cases this flu season than they did all of last year.

So what can be done to prevent it?

"Your best protection against the flu is to get vaccinated. And I know a lot of people out there are thinking it's January it's too late, the flu season is almost over, it's not true," said Dr. Mallika Marshall of Massachusetts General Hospital-Chelsea Urgent Care.

People should also take precautions like washing hands frequently, 15 to 30 seconds each time. Also, avoid touching the eyes and nose.

The internet is also a good place to stay up to date. On, more than 20,000 volunteers are compiling reports for users to check how severe the outbreak is by a given zip code.

There is a Facebook app that checks friends' statuses for words like "cough" or "sneeze", letting people know who is most likely infected.

The CDC has an app which tracks cases by state.

Doctors also warn there is more going around than just the flu for people to worry about, such as neural infections, stomach bugs and other virus that mask as the flu.

Experts say, unfortunately, it's just the season for these types of virus.

NECN fans have been sounding off on Facebook.

Louise Sisley wrote: "I have a cold that I got the Thursday before Christmas. I just want it to go away!"

Bekah Vine wrote: "With a family of 4, seems you no sooner get one virus out, and another comes to visit."

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