The Delaware Department of Health Services is reporting continual elevated reported cases of influenza A (H3N2) viruses. This is despite the fact that the 2018-2019 flu season should be coming to a close, based on historical reported cases.
As on March 23, State health officials say there have been 5,854 lab-confirmed cases of influenza in Delaware this season, in which 943 required hospitalization. Officials say because this only reflects lab and hospital reported cases, the true number of influenza cases in the state is likely much higher. This year’s reported influenza cases are much lower than the over 9,000 reported cases in the 2017-2018 season, but are now considered the second highest on record since record keeping began in 2004. This season is additionally notable for how late in the season influenza cases are remaining relevant.
Delaware has also reported flu fatalities this season, with 20 Delawareans passing away as a result of flu complications. All were reported to have the influenza A strain of the virus and had underlying health conditions or complications. The deceased ranged in age from 41 to 90 years old.
Common symptoms associated with H3N2 viruses include fever, cough, sore throat, headaches, body aches and chills. These symptoms typically come on suddenly, unlike the common cold. Health officials warn that those of older age may experience more severe illness and that it is crucially important for those 65 years and older to seek immediate treatment.
Delaware Public Health is encouraging residents to take precautions to avoid becoming infected with the flu including practicing social distancing, washing your hands frequently with soap and water, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and covering your sneezes and coughs.
Flu vaccines remain available at State Service Centers including at 805 River Road in Dover, 253 N.E. Front Street in Milford, 350 Virginia Avenue in Seaford and 544 S. Bedford Street in Georgetown. For more information on the flu and vaccine you can visit http://flu.delaware.gov