Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Date: December 17, 2014
Dover, DE - The number of flu cases is increasing in Delaware to 250 laboratory confirmed cases with a rise also being seen in emergency room visits for flu-like symptoms. Sussex County appears to be the hardest hit with over 60% of the cases statewide and two fatalities in individuals with underlying medical conditions. The Delaware Division of Public Health reminds Delawareans that preventing the flu through vaccination and sanitary precautions is still the best protection today and every day
Each year a few strains of the flu will circulate. This season so far, DPH has 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. These include older people, the very young and those with underling medical conditions.
Flu vaccines are designed to protect against three or four different strains of the disease depending upon the type of vaccine. While there have been reports of mutations in the flu gene, vaccination is still a vital weapon even when there is not an exact match between the vaccine and the strain that infects someone. This is because flu vaccines not only prevent the flu but they can also lesson the severity of the illness.
"Many people think that flu vaccines are all or nothing and that they either prevent the flu or not," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH Director. "But vaccines can also play a very important role in reducing the severity of symptoms from the flu. A flu vaccine could prevent a hospitalization or many missed school or work days even if someone develops the disease."
Adds Dr. Awele Madukah-Ezeh, DPH Medical Director, "Flu vaccines prevent the disease, can reduce the severity of an illness, and protect for the entire flu season. Vaccinations are still widely available and it's important for people to get their shot before the holidays to ensure the best protection going into the peak of the flu season."
Delawareans are encouraged to prevent flu infection by taking the following measures:
For further information on the flu or where to get vaccinated visit www.flu.delaware.gov or call 800-282-8672.
A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person's spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit www.delawarerelay.com
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, drink almost no sugary beverages.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.