Swine flu cases climb in New York

April 29, 2009 9:53:51 PM PDT
The number of people with confirmed cases of swine flu in New York City continues to grow. All 51 have had links to a known area of high transmission - Mexico or the St. Francis Preparatory school in Queens.

Most have suffered only minor illness and, as far as is known, all of the affected people, including a 19-month-old child from Brooklyn, are recovering.

Five new probable cases include three more students at St. Francis and two people who are associated with Public School Q177 in Queens, which closed this week after a number of children and some staff members reported flu-like illness. Siblings of students at St. Francis attend Q177, and the finding of probable cases was anticipated. Q177 will stay closed at least through the end of the week.

Other schools around the city are also closing out of caution.

At St. Brigid's School in Bushwick, a student who had a sibling that attends St. Francis Prep left some parents concerned.

St. Brigid's joins Good Shepherd School, which closed amid concerns about a student exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

The diagnosis of the student, who appears to have the flu, has not been confirmed by the Health Department.

But out of an abundance of caution, officials at the Good Shepherd School decided to close for the rest of the week.

Students were dismissed at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday and told school will not resume until Monday.

School officials are in the process of making arrangements for the 600 students supposed to make First Communion on Saturday.

It is not known if the services will go as scheduled.

Bishop Kearney High School in Bensonhurst will also be closed on Thursday and Friday due to swine flu concerns. The principal posted a message on the school's website that says the school has no confirmed swine flu cases, but some students may have had contact with other kids who have the virus.

The city health department continues to watch the situation closely.

"The agency will continue to investigate possible clusters and monitor closely for signs of severe illness," said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. "The Health Department continues to work closely with the Department of Education and non-public schools to identify any apparent clusters in schools. When appropriate, we will recommend closure of schools to reduce transmission."

Approximately a dozen students at Q177 developed fever in recent days. While the school has been closed, Health Department personnel visited homes of affected students and collected specimens from affected people for analysis. No additional illness has been reported from the community. If the student samples are confirmed at CDC on Thursday as anticipated, Q177 will be the second school with documented cases of swine flu.

Probable person-to-person transmission has now been reported in Mexico, the United States and other countries.

The Health Department today collected tests from several students who attend a second parochial school in New York City and who were ill on Tuesday. No additional students became ill at this school, and testing results should be ready late Thursday.

The Health Department noted that there have been many incorrect rumors about swine flu. Physicians cannot diagnose swine flu because tests available to them cannot tell the difference between routine seasonal flu, which is continuing to make people sick, and swine flu. At present, only the Health Department's Public Health Laboratory can determine if a case is probable, and only CDC can confirm swine flu.

  • Swine Flu Resource Guide
  • ON THE NET: NYC Health Info

    New Jersey health officials say they have now identified seven probable cases of swine flu among state residents. That's two more than were announced earlier in the week.

    The state is still waiting for test results from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm that they are definitely swine flu.

    Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard says all seven individuals have mild forms of the flu and are recovering at home. No one was hospitalized. The patients include residents from several counties.

    The state has set up a telephone hot line for residents worried about swine flu. The hot line number is 1-866-321-9571.


    Connecticut health officials say they're awaiting test results from the federal Centers for Disease Control of three suspected cases of swine flu in the state.

    Officials say doctors are treating a Middlefield child and adults in Stratford and Southbury. All had recently visited Mexico.

    Rockland County

    The Rockland County Health Department says it's investigating two suspected cases of swine flu.

    The department says the two residents have been ill over the past several days after traveling to Mexico. It says both are recovering.


    Swine flu is a respiratory infection caused by influenza type A viruses that regularly cause outbreaks of influenza in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can occur. Human cases typically involve people who have had direct contact with pigs, but likely person-to-person transmission has now been reported in California, Texas, Mexico and New York City. Again, the cases in Mexico have had a high fatality rate, but the confirmed cases in the U.S. have been mild and all patients have recovered without treatment.

    The symptoms of swine flu in people appear to be similar to the symptoms of regular seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting as well. New Yorkers experiencing severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, should seek health care and treatment. Otherwise, the health department recommends at-home care.

    The most effective way to lower the risk of influenza transmission is for people with symptoms to stay home. All New Yorkers should cover their mouths when they cough. Additional precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to avoid infecting them.
  • Swine influenza cannot be transmitted from eating pork or pork products.

    For facts about influenza, and more information about swine flu, please visit the health department and CDC Web sites. Some specific resources:

    From New York City Health Department

    Facts about flu

    From Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    General information about swine flu

    Swine Flu Case Definitions

    Swine Flu Infection Control and Patient Care

    Preventing the Flu