NJ, Long Island report first swine flu deaths

June 15, 2009 10:39:37 PM PDT
Swine flu is being blamed for the death of a 49-year-old northern New Jersey man, the first fatality in the state associated with the virus, health officials said Monday. The man reported having flu-like symptoms on May 30 and was hospitalized on June 2 with pneumonia. He died Saturday at Mountainside Hospital in Montclair.

  • Swine Flu Resource Guide
  • State health officials said Monday that the man had multiple underlying conditions, although they did not specify what they were. It was unknown how he contracted the virus.

    "He may have just gotten it from the community," Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard said. "It really is in all regions of the state."

    To date, New Jersey has reported 320 confirmed cases of the swine flu, also known as the H1N1 virus, and 194 probable cases in 19 of the state's 21 counties.

    State epidemiologist Tina Tan said it appears that there are fewer reports of suspected cases.

    "We are starting to seeing a leveling off of actual reports we are getting from our local health departments and from our hospitals," Tan said.

    However, Tan warned that influenza was a very unpredictable virus.

    "We're not sure what type of trajectory it will take in the next couple of weeks," she said.

    Meantime, two people have become Long Island's first victims to die of swine flu.

    Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. Humayun Chaudhry announced Monday that two Brookhaven residents died last week.

    Chaudhry says a man between the ages of 35 and 45 who had a serious underlying condition was hospitalized for pneumonia and other problems about two weeks ago. He died June 10.

    A woman between the ages of 55 and 65 who had several underlying conditions died June 9. She became ill on June 6, then visited her doctor two days later and got a medicine prescription. She said she was feeling better the following day, but within hours she was dead.

    Symptoms of swine flu are similar to seasonal flu: fever, lack of appetite, coughing and fatigue. Some people also report having a sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

    Most cases reported in New Jersey have been mild. And compared to New York City, where health officials estimate that 253,000 people had the swine flu in Queens and Brooklyn alone during May, New Jersey's number of cases is quite small.

    At least 16 New Yorkers have been killed by the virus; 12 had underlying health conditions known to make them at risk from the illness, city health officials said. The other four were obese, a finding the health department said deserves further study.

    Last week, the World Health Organization declared swine flu a pandemic, the first global flu epidemic in 41 years.

    Nearly 18,000 cases of swine flu have been reported across the U.S., with 45 confirmed deaths.

    U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Sunday said production of a vaccine for swine flu is being set up in case a vaccine program is recommended.

    She said the government is working with governors, as well as health and schools officials, in case a major vaccination program is needed. She says that production of a vaccine could start as early as late summer and be ready by the fall.


    For facts about influenza, and more information about swine flu, please visit the Health Department and CDC websites. 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