Updated: Flu death toll in Delaware rises to 5

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The Delaware  Division of Public Health (DPH) confirmed two recent flu-related deaths, bringing the total number of deaths for the 2019-2020 season  to five.

One of the  most recent victims is a 29-year-old New Castle County man diagnosed with influenza B who passed away earlier this month.  Recently, a 65-year-old New Castle County woman diagnosed with influenza A passed away due to complications from the flu.

Of the four individuals who have passed away this season, two persons were from Sussex County, and two were from New Castle County. There was no immediate information on the fifth death None of the first four individuals who died had received the flu vaccine and all had underlying medical conditions.

As of Feb. 1  2,943  confirmed cases of influenza have been reported in Delaware. The rate of increase in  flu cases has been rising. 

These numbers reflect only the number of lab-confirmed cases. The actual number of cases statewide is likely much higher.

“We can’t express enough sympathy for the friends and loved ones of those we have lost to flu this season,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “The best protection against the flu is to get vaccinated every year. The vaccine is safe and effective for people six months and older. The vaccine makes you less likely to get the flu and will make your symptoms milder in the event that you do catch it. You should also visit your doctor if you’re feeling ill and take any antiviral medicine he or she prescribes as directed.”

In addition to getting a flu vaccine and taking antiviral medication, DPH recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses in the home and workplace:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If no tissue is available, cough or sneeze into your inner elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Over-the-counter medicines can provide symptom relief, but if you suspect you have influenza, call your doctor as he or she may decide to provide antiviral medications to help hasten recovery and prevent serious complications. This is particularly important for those who feel very sick, are pregnant or have chronic medical conditions.

Flu symptoms come on suddenly, and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and body aches, chills and fatigue. Some people get complications including pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections. People with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes and asthma are more susceptible to catching the flu.

Flu vaccines are available at many pharmacies and grocery stores, and through primary care physicians and some specialists. To find participating stores, enter your ZIP code in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s flu vaccine finder at www.cdc.gov/flu/. For more information about the flu, visit flu.delaware.gov/ or call DPH at 1-800-282-8672. Flu shots are still available at DPH clinics located within the State Service Centers.

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