The number of lab-confirmed flu cases in Delaware has risen sharply to 1,340 compared to 107 cases at this same time last year; including seven new deaths, the Delaware Division of Public Health reported.
The death toll stood at 11, as of Friday.
All but one of the fatalities are persons over the age of 70. The other fatality was 53 years old. All had underlying medical conditions.
The epidemic has led to crowded emergency rooms and altered visitation rules at hospitals for children.
Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH Division Director said, “Delaware is experiencing substantially more cases and deaths overall than recent years. Simple things like washing hands, staying home when sick, and vaccination can reduce the impact of the flu. DPH also reminds people to be especially careful about accidental exposure to particularly vulnerable people.”
In an update on Friday, the department emphasized the use of anti-virals, the two most commonly used being Tamiflu and Relenza. Anti-virals are strongly recommended for those with influenza who are at high risk for complications.
The division made the following suggestions for businesses:
– Encourage your people to stay home if sick.
– Provide hand sanitizer whenever possible at meetings or desks.
– Support vaccination or at least doctor’s visits if people seem ill.
So far this season, the Delaware Department of Public Health reported influenza A (H3N2) viruses most frequently compared to other strains.
Past experience indicates that when this particular strain is more common, there have been more hospitalizations and deaths, especially among those at highest risk of complications from flu infection, DHSS reported.
The CDC reports that Influenza A H3N2 that is among those causing illness in the community is slightly different (mutated) from the original vaccine.
However, vaccination is still a vital weapon even when there is not an exact match between the vaccine and the strain that infects someone. The flu shot will not only prevent the flu, but it can also lessen the severity of the illness if someone contracts the virus.
Some media reports have indicated that the current vaccine is not effective, leading to worries that some people will stay away from getting shots.