Dot hardest hit neighborhood in '09 H1N1 outbreak

A new report on the impacts of the H1N1 flu virus in Boston indicates that Dorchester was hit hard by last year’s outbreak, which sickened a disproportionate amount of people of color in the city last year.
“This study is proof positive that we can ill-afford to let down our guards,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission in a statement issued today. “Now more than ever people should be vigilant and get vaccinated, which is the best protection against the 2009 H1N1 virus.”

The study examined each of the reported 1,487 reported flu cases last year and found that the while the severity of the illness varied around the city’s neighborhoods, it was consistently stubborn in Dorchester throughout the year.
“More disturbingly,” reads the report, “racial disparities persisted throughout spring and autumn, with black and Hispanic residents more often hospitalized. Of hospitalized flu cases, 37.5 percent were black and 29.7 percent were Hispanic, compared to 24.1 percent of whites.”
Other key facts outlined in the report include:
• 32 of reported cases required hospitalization
• 37 were pregnant women
• 86 were health care workers
• 7 Boston residents died between April and December of confirmed H1N1 and non-specific influenza.
The data will be used to combat the coming season, which could prove even more dangerous, according to Dr. Ferrer.
“We’ve likely not seen the end of the 2009 H1N1 outbreak and the public needs to know that and get vaccinated,’’ she said. “We will keep repeating that message until flu season ends or there’s no more flu in Boston.”
Read a copy of the full PowerPoint report here.