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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Email: jill.fredel@delaware.gov

Date: December 31, 2014


Dover, DE (December 31, 2014) - The number of Delaware lab-confirmed flu cases is now 632 for 2014 compared to 70 cases at this same time last year; including two new deaths to bring the total to four deaths to date for this flu season. All deaths have involved older adults with underlying medical conditions, two in Sussex, and one each in Kent and New Castle counties. The Delaware Division of Public Health reminds Delawareans that preventing the flu through vaccination and sanitary precautions is still the best protection.

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. Most vulnerable are older people, the very young, pregnant women and those who recently gave birth, and people with underlying medical conditions, such as lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, and individuals with weak immune systems.

Flu vaccines are designed to protect against three or four different strains of the disease depending upon the type of vaccine. The CDC reports that Influenza A H3N2 that is among those causing illness in the community is slightly different (mutated) from the original vaccine. However, 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 shots will give full protection against two flu strains and even some protection against the mutated strain. As a result, the flu shot will not only prevent the flu but it can also lessen the severity of the illness if someone contracts the virus.

Most people recover from the flu through rest at home and drinking plenty of fluids. Check with your doctor or visit a medical aid unit or walk-in clinic if you are concerned about your symptoms. Flu symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs to treat your flu illness. Antivirals are a second line defense to treat the flu if you get sick. It can lessen the symptoms, shorten the time you are sick, and prevent complications. However, a flu vaccine is still the first and best way to prevent the flu.

DPH has received data that indicates hospital emergency rooms (ER) are extremely busy and asks Delawareans to carefully consider before deciding to visit the ER. Wait times may be very long and, unless someone is in a high-risk group or has the below symptoms, your primary care physician, a walk-in clinic or medical aid unit are good options if you have flu symptoms and need medical attention.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following signs suggest severe illness from flu requiring immediate attention and possible hospitalization:

In children

In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:

In adults

Some groups are at special risk for complications and individuals in these groups should seek care immediately if they develop symptoms of the flu. These include:

Individuals who do not have these symptoms should consider contacting their primary care physician or visit a walk-in clinic or medical aid unit if they decide they need medical care.

Delawareans are encouraged to prevent flu infection by taking the following measures:

For further information on the flu, visit 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 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.