First confirmed case of the flu in Delaware, officials say

Delaware officials have reportedly confirmed the state’s first lab case of the flu for the 2016-2017 flu season.

The Delaware Division of Public Health says that the case involves a 27-year-old Kent County man who was not hospitalized.

Officials say that there are two main types of the flu virus, types A and B, that spread usually in people and is responsible for seasonal flu outbreaks annually. Delaware’s first case is an influenza A strain.

The Delaware Division of Public Health reportedly made the announcement during the press event portion of a drive-thru flu clinic that happened in Dover, which served as the official kick-off of its 2016-2017 flu season prevention efforts. Officials say that the clinic was held outside of the Blue Hen Corporate Center in Dover, and that it was the first Delaware Division of Public Health flu clinic in Kent County. The clinic is also reportedly set to be the largest. Officials say, DPH nursing staff, Bay Health nurses, gave flu vaccines, and radio station Eagle 97.7 were the entertainment.

After Governor Markell gave remarks, he reportedly got his last flu shot as Governor from DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay, who along with Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Rita Landgraf also reportedly got their flu shots. Governor Markell encouraged all Delawareans six months  and older to get vaccinated soon if they have not yet done so.

Governor Markell said, “Getting your annual vaccination is easy and it’s the single most important step every Delawarean should take right now to be prepared for cold and flu season, the evidence is clear that the benefits received from the flu shot saves lives, especially among our vulnerable residents, protects our workforce, and reduces costs across our healthcare system.”

The clinic, which gives vaccines to those 13 and older, also served as a preparedness exercise, letting officials prepare and practice accommodating all people, in the event of a large-scale health emergency. Bilingual and sign interpreters were also reportedly there, along with special lanes for those with certain needs.

Officials say people can stop by the Blue Hen Mall drive-thru clinic up until 4:00 PM, Thursday.

The current vaccine reportedly protects people against four strains of the flu virus, which can be unexpected and fatal. Last flu season, Delaware reportedly had 2,064 confirmed flu cases, six of which were deadly.

Secretary Landgraf says “The flu is easy to transmit and you can get it from healthy, but unvaccinated, children and adults, with the announcement of the first confirmed case of the season, we want to remind Delawareans that they need the protection that an annual flu shot provides. Getting vaccinated can reduce the severity of flu illness and prevent visits to the doctor, clinic, or emergency room or missing important family, school, and work events.”

“Vaccination is about not only protecting yourself, but also protecting each other,” said Dr. Rattay. “If you’re not in a high-risk group, you likely live or interact with those who are, such as young children, older adults, or those with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems.”

Dr. Rattay says that vulnerable populations especially should get their shots this season including:

  • Seniors
  • Pregnant women and their household contacts
  • Caregivers and household contacts of children younger than 6 months, since those children are too young to receive the vaccine
  • Those with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems
  • Food service providers
  • Health care providers.

“In Delaware, there are ample opportunities to receive the flu vaccine. From physician offices, to pharmacies, even the grocery store,” said Bayhealth Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Executive Bonnie Perratto. “But some people are still in need. And events like this help bridge the gap so we can protect as many Delawareans as possible from the flu.”

Officials say it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to formulate in the body that protect against influenza virus infection, so Delawareans are recommended to get the shots before the flu starts spreading in their community.

The flu vaccine is reportedly available through medical providers, pharmacies, and some grocery stores.

DPH is reportedly holding public flu clinics, including some with evening hours, at different locations. All people have to do is  Google “CDC flu finder,” put in their ZIP code, and find nearby sites offering vaccinations.

Some flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and body aches, and fatigue. Complications which can come on at any time reportedly include pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections. Providers can prescribe antiviral medicines to make the illness milder, hasten recovery, and prevent serious complications, hospitalizations, and even death. DPH reportedly watches the occurrence of influenza-like illnesses in hospitals, selected long-term care facilities, and medical clinics to track flu trends in the state.

To prevent the spread of the virus, officials recommend that people wash their hands often with soap and water, use hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol,  cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or aiming for your inside elbow, remain six feet away from others who are coughing or sneezing, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Officials say people with flu-like illness should stay home from work, school, and other gatherings and not return until free of fever — 100° F (37.8° C), without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least 24 hours.  

For more information on the flu, people can call DPH at 800-282-8672 or visit this website.

Categories: Delaware, Health, Local News