State records first two flu deaths

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The Division of Public Health reported  the first two flu-related deaths of the 2019-2020 flu season while urging residents to get vaccinations.

A 68-year-old woman infected with influenza A, and a 65-year-old man infected with influenza B, passed away this week as a result of complications from the flu. Both individuals were Sussex County residents and  had underlying health conditions.

As of Dec. 28, 2019, the most recent date for which flu statistics are available, there have been 1,083 laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu in Delaware.

This number reflects only the number of lab-confirmed cases; the actual number of cases circulating statewide is likely much higher as not all people with the flu seek treatment, and many cases are diagnosed through rapid test kits in a provider’s office versus a lab.

In addition, 65 people have been hospitalized with flu-like symptoms since the start of the flu season.

During the week of Dec. 22 to Dec. 28,  there were 470 new lab-confirmed cases, the highest increase in a single week since the start of the flu season on October 1, 2019. During the same time last year, there was a total of 681 lab-confirmed cases of flu statewide, including 140 hospitalizations.

“The deaths of these two Delawareans is a tragic reminder of how dangerous the flu can be, particularly to individuals who already have weakened immune systems,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the deceased, as well as those still battling the flu. We continue to encourage Delawareans to get their flu vaccines and make sure everyone in their family gets theirs, too. The vaccine will lower your likelihood of getting the flu and can lessen the severity of your symptoms if you do catch it. You should also be sure to take any antiviral medicines that your primary care provider prescribes.”

For more information about the flu, visit flu.delaware.gov/ or call DPH at 1-800-282-8672.

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