Delaware Health Officials Announce Two More Flu-Related Deaths - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware Health Officials Announce Two More Flu-Related Deaths

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DOVER, Del. - Two more people have died in Delaware in connection with the flu, bringing the state's total number of flu-related deaths this season to five.

The Division of Public Health says the first week of February, an 86-year-old Kent County man living in a nursing home died after being infected with Influenza A. Then last week, a 90-year-old New Castle County man who lived at home died after being infected with the same string of flu. DPH says both men had underlying health conditions, as well.

According to state health officials, the number of lab-confirmed flu cases this season is significantly higher than last year at this time. As of the week ending Feb. 11, DPH had documented 1,296 lab-confirmed cases, with 263 requiring hospitalization. The 2015 to 2016 season saw an unusually late peak in flu activity, with the first flu-related death not occurring until March 14, 2016.

The county-by-county breakdown of this season's flu cases is as follows: 772 in New Castle, 321 in Kent and 203 in Sussex. These are just lab-confirmed cases, but DPH believes the actual numbers are much higher.

Of the nearly 1,300 lab-confirmed cases, 224 patients are 65 years of age or older. Of the patients who have been hospitalized with the flu in Delaware, 54 percent of them have been at least 65 years old. All five flu-related deaths this season were elderly people with underlying health conditions.

However, health officials say people 24 years of age and younger are also being hit particularly hard this flu season. Fifty-four percent of the lab-confirmed cases in Delaware were people in the 0 to 24 age group.

“This year’s flu numbers reinforce the unpredictability of influenza,” said Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker.  “Given that we see such wide variation almost every year, taking all the steps to prevent the flu is vital. Getting vaccinated, washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when ill can protect you and your loved ones.”

Flu symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. DPH is still telling people with symptoms to call -- not visit -- their medical providers, who may be able to prescribe anti-viral medication.

For more information on influenza prevention, diagnosis and treatment, call the Division of Public Health at 800-282-8672 or visit flu.delaware.gov.

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