A New Castle County man and a Kent County woman have died from influenza, according to Delaware Health and Social Services.
A 33-year-old expectant woman from Smyrna in her second trimester of pregnancy is the third flu-related death of the 2013-2014 flu season. The woman passed away on Feb. 22. The woman initially sought care for illness on Feb. 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 Feb. 16 in severe respiratory distress and was hospitalized. Her child was delivered by emergency Caesarean section on Feb. 17 and remains hospitalized.
A 77-year-old Wilmington man was the state’s second flu death when he passed away Feb. 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.”
Delaware’s first flu death was a 50-year-old woman from central Sussex County who died on Jan. 6.
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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated H1N1 hospitalizations from April 2009 to 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 Nov. 2013 through Jan. 8 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 Feb. 15. DPH reports a total of 957 cases for the current flu season in Delaware, with 32 flu-related hospitalizations for the week of Feb. 15. In calendar year 2013, there were 1,773 confirmed flu cases in Delaware with four flu-related deaths. The CDC does not track adult influenza deaths.
Delawareans are also encouraged to prevent infection by taking the following measures:
Wash hands with soap frequently or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers, especially after you cough, sneeze or touch your face. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and dispose of the tissue immediately. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your inner elbow. Droplets from a sneeze can travel up to six feet. Stay home when sick and do not return to work until 24 hours after a fever is gone. 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.