A 23 year-old Dorchester man died from influenza on Jan. 4, the Reporter has learned. The death is the first fatality of the season in Boston caused by the disease, according to Dr. Anita Barry, the director of the city's Infectious Disease Bureau. Dr. Barry said that the city is now girding for what she expects will be a spike in flu illness in the coming weeks.
Dr. Barry said the man— whom she did not identify by name— also suffered from unspecified, underlying health issues.
Sources tell the Reporter that the victim, Luis E. Cabral, 23, is a parishioner at St. Mark's Church in Dorchester. He will be buried from St. Mark's at a Mass on Thursday at 10 a.m. He will be waked on Wednesday afternoon at McHoul Funeral Home on Adams Street.
Dr. Barry said that the city is monitoring an increase in flu cases each week. As of Dec. 27, there had been 127 lab-confirmed cases reported in the city. Since then, there has been a further increase in the number of emergency room visits for flu-like symptoms.
"If you look at it on a graph, it's showing we’re on an upward swing. I expect we will start seeing a lot of influenza activity in the next couple of weeks," said Dr. Barry.
"I think that the wider public should take the opportunity to take steps to protect themselves against influenza," said Dr. Barry, adding that the flu shot is still widely available through primary care doctors and pharmacies. She also urged people to wash hands frequently, cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze and "stay home when they are sick."