The NYC Health Department released data yesterday suggesting "community transmission" of swine flu (aka H1N1 virus) is on the decline, because emergency room visits have declined: "As expected, however, hospitalizations and fatalities continue to occur. As of June 11, the Health Department had recorded 567 hospitalizations and 16 deaths. The latest death occurred in a person aged 40-49."

The Health Department also offered some insight on the fatalities: "Of the 16 New York City deaths attributed to H1N1 flu, 14 have occurred in people under 65, and 12 of the decedents (75%) have had an established underlying risk factor (PDF) for developing severe influenza or complications. All four of the others have been obese, a condition that is not a known risk factor for severe illness but which could potentially increase the risk of complications from flu. Further study is needed to evaluate this finding."

Graph showing rates of influenza-like illness (ILI) visits to 50 New York City emergency departments by four age categories. The data does not represent confirmed H1N1 cases. (Courtesy NYC Health Department)

While swine flu may (possibly) be on the decline, Mayor Bloomberg is worried that children may spread it at playgrounds! (In other words, if kids are sick, keep them at home.) Other factoids from the Health Department:

  • The hospitalized patients have been younger than those who normally experience severe illness during a seasonal flu outbreak. Some 79% of the hospitalized patients have been younger than 50. Nearly half (46%) have been younger than 18, and 20% have been under 5.
  • Residents from all five boroughs have been hospitalized, with the majority of hospitalizations occurring in residents of Brooklyn (32%) and the Bronx (29%), followed by Queens (23%), Manhattan (14%) and Staten Island (2%).
  • Of the 567 hospitalizations, 80% of the patients had at least one known risk factor for severe illness or complications due to influenza. The most common risk factor is asthma, which has been found in 41% of all confirmed hospitalized cases. Other important risk factors include pregnancy (noted in 28% of the 142 women of childbearing age hospitalized for confirmed H1N1), age less than 2 years (12%), diabetes (11%), weakened immunity (9%), and cardiovascular disease (9%).
A NY1-NY Times poll found that 6 in 10 respondents is worried about getting swine flu/or that someone close will get swine flu. And 70% of respondents believe the city's response to the swine flu is good.