Delaware's Division of Public Health announced the state's first laboratory-confirmed case of influenza for the 2016-17 flu season.

Delaware's Division of Public Health announced the state's first laboratory-confirmed case of influenza for the 2016-17 flu season.

The case involves a 27-year-old Kent County man who was not hospitalized. There are two main types of influenza virus — types A and B — that routinely spread in people and are responsible for seasonal flu outbreaks each year. Delaware's first case is an influenza A strain.

DPH made the announcement during the press event portion of a drive-thru flu clinic held in Dover, which began the 2016-17 flu season prevention efforts. The free drive-thru flu clinic was conducted outside of the Blue Hen Corporate Center in Dover. The clinic was the first DPH drive-thru flu clinic in Kent County. DPH nursing staff, joined by Bayhealth nurses, administered intramuscular flu vaccines. Local radio station Eagle 97.7 provided entertainment.

Gov. Jack Markell received his last flu shot as governor from DPH Director Karyl Rattay. Rattay and Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf also received their flu shots. Markell urged all Delawareans to get vaccinated soon if they have not yet done so.

The flu clinic, which provides vaccines to anyone ages 13 and older, also served as a preparedness exercise, enabling DPH staff to practice their readiness in the event of a large-scale health emergency and test their ability to accommodate all people, including those with access and functional needs. Bilingual and sign interpreters were available, and special lanes existed for those with functional needs.

The 2016-17 intramuscular flu vaccine protects against four strains of the influenza virus, which can be unpredictable and deadly. Last flu season, Delaware had 2,064 confirmed flu cases, six of which were fatal.

Rattay said it is important that older Delawareans and those with underlying health conditions get their flu shots early, preferably by the end of October. Those among the most vulnerable populations are seniors; pregnant women and their household contacts; caregivers and household contacts of children younger than 6 months, since those children are too young to receive the vaccine; those with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems; food service providers; and health care providers.

Because it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against influenza virus infection, Delawareans are encouraged to get vaccinated before influenza begins spreading in their community. The flu vaccine is readily available through medical providers, pharmacies and some grocery stores. DPH is hosting public flu clinics, including some with evening hours, at various locations.

Flu symptoms come on suddenly and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and body aches and fatigue. Some people get complications including pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus and ear infections. Providers can prescribe antiviral medicines to make the illness milder, hasten recovery and prevent serious complications, hospitalizations and even death. DPH monitors the occurrence of influenza-like illnesses in hospitals, selected long-term care facilities and medical clinics to track flu trends in the state.

Delawareans can prevent the spread of the flu and other respiratory illness with good hygiene: wash hands often with soap and water, use hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol and cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or aiming for your inside elbow. Stay six feet away from others who are coughing or sneezing and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Persons with flu-like illness should stay home from work, school and other gatherings and not return until free of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least 24 hours.

For more information, call 282-8672 or visit flu.delaware.gov.