TRENTON - Swine flu is being blamed for the death of a 49-year-old northern New Jersey man, the first fatality in the state to be associated with the virus, health officials said yesterday.
The man reported having flu-like symptoms on May 30 and was hospitalized June 2 with pneumonia. He died Saturday in a Montclair hospital.
State health officials said yesterday that the man had underlying conditions, although they did not say what those conditions 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."
New Jersey has reported 320 confirmed cases of swine flu, or influenza type A(H1N1), including one for the first time in Gloucester County. There are 194 probable cases in the state.
State epidemiologist Tina Tan said there appeared to be fewer reports of suspected cases.
"We are starting to see a leveling off of actual reports," Tan said. But she warned that influenza is very unpredictable. "We're not sure what type of trajectory it will take in the next couple of weeks."
Symptoms of the H1N1 virus are similar to seasonal flu: fever, lack of appetite, coughing, and fatigue. Some report having a sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Most cases in New Jersey have been mild. And compared with New York City, where officials estimate that 253,000 people had the H1N1 virus in Queens and Brooklyn alone last month, New Jersey's number of cases is small.
At least 16 New Yorkers have died. Twelve had underlying health conditions, city health officials said. The others were obese, a finding health officials said deserves further study.
Pennsylvania yesterday reported 662 confirmed cases statewide. Two people have died, a 26-year-old woman in in Philadelphia and a 55-year-old woman in Berks County. Delaware's weekly update on Thursday included 184 confirmed cases; no deaths have been reported.
Last week, the World Health Organization declared the H1N1 virus a pandemic, the first global flu epidemic in 41 years. Nearly 18,000 cases have been reported across the United States, with 45 confirmed deaths.
U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Sunday said production of a vaccine for the H1N1 virus is being set up in case a program is recommended. The vaccine could be ready by fall, she said.