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Division of Public Health announces rise in flu cases

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Delaware Public Media
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The Division of Public Health announced Delaware’s first flu related death of the 2021-2022 flu season this week.

And over the past several weeks, there has been an uptick in the number of flu cases in the First State.

As of April 2nd, there have been 1,194 laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu in Delaware. Joshua Rosen, Chief Physician for the State of Delaware, says while this number may seem significant, it’s nothing to worry about.

“The number 1194 certainly does seem like a lot. Last year there were only 26 flu cases at this time,” said Dr. Rosen. “So although that sounds concerning, the year before that, so the 2019 to 2020 flu season, the number of cases was actually over 7,000.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, flu season has seen some different trends.

Dr. Rosen says the recent uptick in cases may be connected to the relaxation of COVID-related safety measures.

“Influenza is a respiratory virus and as people are engaged in more close contact with one another as people are engaged in their more pre-pandemic ‘normal behavior,’ it’s not unexpected to have influenza cases return to their pre-pandemic ‘normal’ case counts,” said Dr. Rosen.

And many prevention strategies are similar to those for COVID-19.

DPH advises anyone who feels sick to stay at home when possible, practice social distancing, wear a well-fitting mask if you have to go out in public, wash your hands frequently, and take antiviral treatment if prescribed by your healthcare provider.

They also encourage those who have not gotten their annual flu shot to do so.

According to Dr. Rosen, when comparing the last quarter of 2022 to 2021, there has been a slight increase in flu vaccinations. There were 6,000 more vaccinations this year during the January to March time frame compared to last year. Vaccination still remains one of the best ways to prevent infection.

Flu vaccines are still available at many pharmacies and grocery stores, and through primary care physicians. To find where to get vaccinated near you, enter your ZIP code in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's flu vaccine finder at www.cdc.gov/flu/.

Quinn Kirkpatrick was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware and a graduated of the University of Delaware. She joined Delaware Public Media in June 2021