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Delaware Health Alert Network #88

11/3/2004 8:45am

Health Alert

This is a general update from the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) on the influenza vaccine shortage situation in Delaware.

Influenza Illness

DPH has initiated surveillance for influenza and influenza-like illness. Neither has been detected in Delaware of this date. Nationally, all indicators suggest low influenza activity.

Vaccine Availability

  • On October 18, 2004 DPH distributed nearly 3000 doses of Delaware Vaccine for Children (VFC) vaccine to Delaware physicians. This is approximately one-third of the doses originally ordered by VFC participating physicians. DPH anticipates filling 100% of VFC orders, but has not yet received additional VFC vaccine.
  • DPH has recently received 12,000 doses of vaccine for the general, high-risk public. Influenza vaccine administration clinics will be announced soon. Additional vaccine is anticipated, but the amount and timing of shipment is not known.
  • Important : DPH will advertise when appointments for flu vaccination in public clinics is available for people in high -risk groups. Please do not instruct patients to call DPH for an appointment until this announcement.

Laboratory Testing for Influenza

DPH has several surveillance systems in place to monitor for influenza activity in Delaware. Health care providers can assist in the detection of early occurrence of influenza by taking the following actions:

  • Collect throat swab specimens from patients with influenza-like illness and send them to the public health laboratory for rapid flu testing, virus isolation and characterization. This is particularly important during the early part of the flu season to know what strains are circulating in Delaware and how best to treat them.
  • Similarly, laboratories and rapid test sites can forward positive specimens for culture-confirmation.
  • Laboratories and rapid test sites can provide weekly reports of the number of specimens tested and the number of laboratory confirmed cases. This information can be reported to the Bureau of Epidemiology at 1-888-295-5156.

Specimen collection and submission information:

  • Call the DPH Laboratory at (302) 653-2870 for virus isolation kits and specimen pick up information.
  • Collect specimens as soon as possible after onset of symptoms. Use the influenza virus kit for collection and transportation of either throat or nasopharyngeal specimens. The kit contains a requisition form and, for throat specimens, a sterile Dacron swab and a screw-capped tube with 2 ml of sterile transport media. For nasopharyngeal specimens, the kit contains a flexible nasopharyngeal swab in Stuarts Medium. Please:
    • Fill in patient name and date collected on tube or swab label.
    • Complete the requisition form.
    • Collect EITHER a throat swab specimen OR a nasopharyngeal swab specimen.
    • Place swab into accompanying medium.
    • Place collected specimen along with requisition slip back into original biohazard specimen bag.
    • Immediately place in a refrigerator (4 C). DO NOT FREEZE.
    • Arrange for transportation of specimen at 4 C (on ice or in cool van) to the DPH Virus Diagnostic Laboratory within 24 hours after collection. Call for information about specimen pick up locations and schedules.

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