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Press Release

Press Release # 021-09
Saturday, May 2, 2009

CONTACT: (212) 788-5290
Jessica Scaperotti/Erin Brady:

Health Department Updates Flu Status

May 2, 2009 — The Health Department today updated the flu situation in New York City, reporting 13 more confirmed cases of the newly identified flu virus known as H1N1 (SO), bringing the City’s total to 62 confirmed cases. The agency is now awaiting confirmatory results for 17 probable cases from the Centers for Disease Control. To date, nearly all confirmed and probable cases have been mild, and all of the affected people have recovered or are recovering. No deaths have been associated with the illness in New York City.

There is now one confirmed case not known to be associated with the outbreaks either in Mexico or the St. Francis Preparatory school in Queens. Information released yesterday indicated that among students, staff, and household members associated with St. Francis Preparatory, more than 1,000 reported illness consistent with influenza. There are also five confirmed cases from Public School Q177 in Queens (included in the St. Francis total in the table below), a school nearby St. Francis, where roughly a dozen students reported flu-like illness earlier this week. The school (Q 177) has been closed since Wednesday and plans to reopen on Wednesday, May 6. St. Francis will reopen Monday, May 4.




Total Cases to Date



Cases Linked to Known Clusters

- Mexico

- St. Francis Preparatory School

- No Links to Known Clusters

- Under investigation









Cases of Severe Illness






Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, New York City Health Commissioner, said, "Although H1N1 is likely spreading in the community, it does not appear to have caused more severe illness than seasonal flu so far in New York City, and seasonal flu can be serious. During this investigation, we have identified several severely ill people — and at least one cluster — from seasonal flu."  With more than 1,000 likely cases, there has been no severe illness from H1N1 recognized to date, although most cases have been in young healthy people who are less likely to have complications of influenza infection than infants, the elderly, and people with underlying health conditions.

The symptoms of H1N1 (SO) flu seem to resemble those of 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.

Antiviral medications are particularly important for people with severe illness and to treat H1N1 (SO) flu (or prevent it in those exposed to confirmed or likely cases) among those at risk of complications from flu, such as young children, the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions. The Health Department will continue to work with medical providers to test patients who develop severe illness or are associated with clusters, but does not currently recommend testing for all flu patients.

In recent days, some businesses have mistakenly reported confirmed cases of H1N1 (SO) flu in their workplaces. H1N1 (SO) flu cannot be diagnosed by local doctors or hospitals. At present, only the Health Department’s Public Health Laboratory can determine if a case is probable, and only CDC can confirm it. In fact, in recent days the Department’s Public Health Laboratory has confirmed many cases and at least one cluster of seasonal flu, which is indistinguishable from H1N1 (SO) by testing in doctor or hospital laboratories.

Eating pork or pork products cannot spread H1N1 (SO) flu. The most effective way to lower the risk is for people with fever and either cough or sore throat to stay home.

  • All New Yorkers should cover their mouths when they cough with their sleeve or a tissue or handkerchief.
  • 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 are sick with fever and either a cough or sore throat, stay home for at least a day or two after all of your symptoms are gone.
  • Stay away from clinics and hospitals unless you have severe symptoms, and notify your doctor or the clinic before, or as soon as you arrive, that you have a fever and respiratory systems so that you can be appropriately isolated from others.

School and day care administrators, employers and managers of group living facilities should make sure to do the following to avoid the spread of illness:

  • Keep shared spaces clean and well ventilated.
  • Group living facilities should separate people who are sick
  • Schools and employers should encourage those who are sick to stay at home, but should not require doctors’ notices to let healthy people return.

Flu epidemics evolve in unpredictable ways; it is impossible to know whether this one will dwindle, remain the same, or surge in coming weeks, and whether the illness will remain mild. Some severe cases may occur in people with underlying risk factors — such as young children, the elderly, and people with chronic medical conditions —the Health Department is watching closely for signs of increased virulence. For facts about influenza, and more information about H1N1 (SO) flu, please visit the Health Department and CDC websites. Some specific resources:

From New York City Health Department

H1N1 (SO) Influenza: What New Yorkers Need To Know

From Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu): General Information