All but three of those who died were over the age of 65 with the others in their 50s. DPH says all 26 had underlying medical conditions. Twenty-one of the deaths were in New Castle County, two in Kent and three in Sussex.
So far this season, there were 2,196 lab-confirmed case of the flu. The number of new confirmed cases continue to drop, but the number of deaths from the flu are not slowing down.
"The number of flu-related fatalities keeps growing even as we see a reduction in new lab-confirmed cases,” said Delaware Public Health Division Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “I cannot emphasize enough the importance of prevention like washing hands and staying home when sick. And, we know that over half of the deaths (60 percent) occurred among people living at home. Checking on elderly or medically vulnerable relatives and neighbors is vital. The flu seen this season can cause a life-threatening illness very quickly in vulnerable people. Starting treatment in ill individuals as soon as possible is critically important.”
Cabinet Secretary Rita Landgraf, Department of Health and Social Services added,“The flu strain that happens to be circulating this year is particularly deadly for seniors and people with underlying conditions. This year is almost four times as deadly as 2009-2010, the year that the Swine Flu was circulating.”
DPH says the Influenza A strain is causing the high rate of illnesses among seniors and those with underlying conditions. Initial evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the 2014-15 flu vaccine has particularly low effectiveness for the elderly who contract a mutated influenza strain.
In previous years, total flu deaths for the season were:
For further information on the flu, visit flu.delaware.gov or call 800-282-8672.