First flu case in Delaware confirmed

DOVER — An 8-year-old from New Castle County is the first Delawarean with a confirmed case of the flu this fall, the state announced Tuesday.

The Division of Public Health said the state had 6,387 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases in the 2018-2019 flu season, including 24 deaths. While those numbers pale in comparison to the prior season (a record 9,051 cases, as well as 35 deaths), they are still up from the 2016-2017 season.

“The flu is here,” DPH Director Karyl Rattay said in a statement. “Now that we have lab confirmation of our first case, we hope this further motivates individuals who have not yet gotten their annual flu shot to do so right away. Getting a flu shot is quick, easy and not only protects you, but also those around you. Most of us frequently spend time around someone who is likely to have more severe consequences from influenza. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for your loved ones.”

Tuesday’s announcement came the same day the state vaccinated more than 1,000 people at a free clinic in Dover.

DPH nurses, as well as volunteers from Bayhealth and the Delaware Medical Reserve Corps, administered shots in front of the Department of Transportation’s Dover office throughout most the day. By 3:45, officials had used about 1,100 of the 1,300 doses and expected to provide the remaining 200 to patients before closing at 6.

DPH provided flu shots to 151 people on Friday as well and will hold other clinics in the upcoming months. A schedule can be found at https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/fluclinics.html.
Flu vaccines are also offered through many health care providers and pharmacies.

The state recommends all individuals 6 months and up get vaccinated against the flu. Because it takes around two weeks after the shot for antibodies to develop, health officials urge Delawareans to receive the vaccination as soon as possible.

The flu is easy to transmit, and children, seniors and individuals with chronic underlying medical conditions are most at risk for complications from the virus. People can prevent the spread of the flu and other respiratory illness by frequently washing their hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers and covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or arm.

Symptoms for the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and body aches, chills and fatigue and develop suddenly.

Individuals who believe they are sick should see a doctor and stay out of school or work until they are fever-free for at least 24 hours. People with symptoms should stay hydrated.

For more information about the flu and where to get vaccinated, visit flu.delaware.gov or call 1-800-282-8672.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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