“This is a sad and stark reminder that the flu is still very much with us and can be deadly,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of Public Health. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the deceased. Like many states, Delaware has seen an increase in flu cases recently. The prevention strategies are similar to the ones we encourage people to use with COVID-19.”
Flu symptoms come on suddenly, and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and body aches, chills and fatigue.
Some people get complications including pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections. People with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes and asthma are more susceptible to catching the flu.
In addition to staying home if you have flu-like symptoms and taking antiviral medication as directed, DPH recommends you:
- Practice social distancing by keeping your distance from well people if you have cold or flu-like symptoms.
- Wear a well-fitting face covering if you feel ill and have to go out in public to a doctor’s appointment or pharmacy.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and dispose of tissues immediately; if no tissue is available, cough or sneeze into your inner elbow.
Social distancing means that those sick with the flu should stay home from work, school, and other gatherings and not return until they have been free of fever – with a temperature of less than 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C) without the use of fever-reducing medications – for at least 24 hours.
They should avoid close contact with well people in the household and stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other clear liquids.
Over-the-counter medicines can provide symptom relief, but if you suspect you have influenza, call your primary care provider as he or she may decide to provide antiviral medications to help hasten recovery and prevent serious complications.
This is particularly important for those who feel very sick, are pregnant or have chronic medical conditions.
Flu vaccines are still available at many pharmacies and grocery stores, through primary care physicians and some specialists. To find participating stores, enter your ZIP code in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s flu vaccine finder at www.cdc.gov/flu/.
For more information about the flu, visit flu.delaware.gov/.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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