Roxbury, Hyde Park, Charlestown hit hardest by flu last week

Confirmed flu cases (l) and rates of ER visits for flu-like symptoms. Source: BPHC.Confirmed flu cases (l) and rates of ER visits for flu-like symptoms. Source: BPHC.

City statistics for the week ending Jan. 5 show Roxbury and Hyde Park had the highest percentage of emergency-room visits due to flu-like symptoms while Charlestown had the highest per-capita number of confirmed flu cases. The latest Boston Public Health Commission flu report shows a total of 750 confirmed flu cases city wide for this flu season - 231 of them since Dec. 31. Most are Influenza A with a small number of Influenza B cases.

On Wednesday, Mayor Menino declared a public-health emergency in part because health-care facilities are now at or near capacity. One out of four of the confirmed cases have been among people who had to be hospitalized; four people have died.

Neighborhood health centers are running free flu-shot clinics for Boston residents this weekend and next week.

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    Actually Roxbury only moderately affected (relatively)

    The blue map to the right displays ER visits due to self-reported "flu-like" symptoms. Many conditions make people report "flu-like" symptoms, including flu, norovirus, hangover, etc ad nauseum (literally).

    Not surprisingly, the sections of the city with either the oldest or the least insured populations have the highest rates of ER visits. I would wager this is true pretty much all the time, not just during flu season.

    The orange map on the left is the one that comes closest to showing the rate of actual flu in the city. Charlestown is getting whomped, and WestRox, Hyde Park and JP are not doing so well either.

    True that, but ...

    Not everybody who shows up with flu-like symptoms has a sample tested for the flu, so I was thinking that map could be skewed as well (maybe the clinics or whatever in Charlestown are more insistent on testing).

    Depends on the definition

    The "ILI" is defined as "flu" or "fever and cough/sore throat" - so it's likely that someone with a stomach bug complaining of nausea/vomiting or someone feeling hungover would not tell the ER reception that they had the flu.

    However, since this is dealing with ER data only, you are right - people in certain neighborhoods might be more likely to go to the ER for flu-like symptoms. So the blue map shows burden of illness by neighborhood in terms of ER use, and the orange map shows people who managed to get to any doctor's office and have a positive flu test (which isn't 100% accurate).