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DHSS Press Release

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

Date: February 26, 2014


DOVER (February 25, 2014) - A New Castle County man and a Kent County woman have died from influenza. A 33-year-old expectant mother from Smyrna in her second trimester of pregnancy is the third flu-related death of the 2013-2014 flu season, passing away February 22. The woman initially sought care for illness on February 11, when test results confirmed she was positive for influenza H1N1. She had several underlying conditions and was not vaccinated for influenza. The woman sought emergency care February 16 in severe respiratory distress and was hospitalized. Her child was delivered by emergency Caesarean section on February 17 and remains hospitalized.

A 77-year-old Wilmington man was the state's second flu death when he passed away February 21 while hospitalized. He had several underlying medical conditions. "These are tragedies," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH director. "Our thoughts and prayers go to the mother's child and all of the loved ones of our two deceased community members."

Reports this winter in Delaware and nationwide show that influenza cases have been impacting younger age groups. The shift in risk groups this season is due to the prevalence of the H1N1 strain of influenza, which has historically had a greater impact on young and middle-aged adults. The CDC estimated H1N1 hospitalizations from April 2009 - April 2010 at 160,000 for people ages 18-64, compared to 27,000 for people 65 and older. A snapshot of patients who required care at Duke University Hospital during this year's flu season shows that those who had not been vaccinated had severe cases and needed the most intensive treatment. In an analysis of the first 55 patients treated for flu at Duke University Hospital from November 2013 through Jan. 8, 2014, Duke researchers found that only two of the 22 patients who required intensive care had been vaccinated prior to getting sick. Dr. Rattay reminds all Delawareans how important it is to get a flu vaccine.

Flu status for both Delaware and the nation is considered widespread for the week ending February 15. DPH reports a total of 957 cases for the current flu season in Delaware, with 32 flu-related hospitalizations for the week of February 15. In calendar year 2013, there were 1,773 confirmed flu cases in Delaware with four flu-related deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not track adult influenza deaths.

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

Residents who are not yet vaccinated are encouraged to obtain their vaccine. Anyone age six months and older should get vaccinated for the flu. It is particularly important that anyone who works or lives with young children, persons with underlying medical conditions, pregnant women or seniors, get vaccinated. Vaccinations are offered through physician offices, and many pharmacies and grocery stores. If you need information on the flu or where to get vaccinated visit www.flu.delaware.gov or call 800-282-8672.

Delaware's first flu death was a 50-year-old woman from central Sussex County who died on January 6, 2014.

DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eating at least five servings of fruit or vegetables a day, watching no more than two hours of recreational screen time daily, getting one hour of physical activity each day, and drinking almost no sugar-sweetened drinks.

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.