Delaware Public Health: Flu is now statewide

On Monday, Delaware’s Division of Public Health announced that flu has officially been confirmed in all three counties, with new lab-confirmed cases in New Castle and Sussex counties.

According to a release from Delaware Health and Social Services, the first New Castle County cases include a 77-year-old woman who was discharged following a hospital stay, and a 64-year-old man. No deaths have been reported. That same release also noted the first Sussex case as being an infant who is recovering at home. None of the new cases apparently had records that they have received their flu vaccine this season. Health officials say that these cases join two other lab-confirmed cases in Kent County, 27-year-old and 39-year-old men, neither of which were hospitalized.

Health officials explain that there are two main types of influenza, flu, virus – types A and B – that routinely spread in people and are responsible for seasonal flu outbreaks each year.

“Now is the time to get vaccinated. We understand none of the Delaware cases were immunized, which is not uncommon this early in the season,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “But vaccination is our most effective weapon against preventing the flu and its severity. Public Health recommends getting a flu vaccine every year.”

DPH officials say that finding a flu clinic or vaccination site is as easy as googling “CDC flu finder”, entering your zip code, and locating the site nearest you.

DPH Medical Director Dr. Awe Maduka-Ezeh, an infectious disease specialist, also noted, “It takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to develop antibodies protect you from the flu so now is the time to get vaccinated before the busy holiday season begins. The flu vaccine is readily available through medical providers, pharmacies, and some grocery stores.”

Health officials explain that flu symptoms come on suddenly, and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and body aches, and fatigue. Some people get complications including 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 monitors the occurrence of influenza-like illnesses in hospitals, selected long-term care facilities, and medical clinics to track flu trends in the state.

In addition to vaccination, according to DPH officials, Delawareans can prevent the spread of the flu and other respiratory illness with good hygiene:

  • Wash 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.
  • Stay six feet away from others who are coughing or sneezing, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Persons with flu-like illness should stay home from work, school, and other gatherings and not return until free of fever – 100 F, without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least 24 hours. DPH is hosting public flu clinics, including some with evening hours, at various locations. For more information on flu clinics, influenza prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, call DPH at 800-282-8672 or visit this website.

Categories: Delaware, Health, Local News