First Delaware flu season death reported

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The Delaware Division of Public Health reported the first flu-related death of the 2020-2021 season.

A 56-year-old Kent county male infected with influenza B also had underlying health conditions, died last week.

The state and nation have seen fewer cases during flu season, due in part to the use of masks and social distancing.

As of Dec. 19, the most recent date for which flu statistics are available, there have been five laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu in Delaware in the current season. Two cases each are to residents of Kent and New Castle counties, and one resident is from Sussex County. 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.

“This tragedy reminds us that while we are diligently fighting Covid-19, we cannot forget about influenza as it also can be extremely dangerous and deadly, particularly to individuals who already have weakened immune systems,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “We are keeping this person’s family in our thoughts as well as everyone battling illness in this difficult time. We encourage Delawareans to get their flu vaccines if they have not done so already and to make sure everyone in their family gets theirs, too. The vaccine will lessen your likelihood of getting the flu and can lower the severity of your symptoms if you catch it. You should also take antiviral medicines if your primary care provider prescribes them.”

In addition to getting a flu vaccine and taking antiviral medication as directed, DPH recommends that you:

  • Stay home if you have cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • Practice social distancing to reduce your chance of catching the flu from someone else.
  • Wear a face covering if you have to go out in public to a doctor’s appointment or pharmacy.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and dispose of tissues immediately; if no tissue is available, cough or sneeze into your inner elbow.

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 still 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/. Flu shots continue to be available at DPH clinics located within the Department of Health and Social Services’ State Service Centers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all State Service Centers are requiring appointments for flu vaccines:

Click here to access the state’s influenza. page. Below is public health’s weekly flu report.

Click to access flu2020wk51.pdf

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