Flu cases in Delaware prisons mirror statewide trends

Flu vaccine
(Image/BigStockPhoto)

Flu vaccine (Image/BigStockPhoto)

As flu diagnoses continue to rise in Delaware, and around the country, the state’s prisons also are facing similar patterns.

As of Wednesday, 87 inmates have been diagnosed with the flu within the past two to three weeks.

“We’re basically mirroring what’s going on in the community,” said Marc Richman, correctional healthcare services bureau chief.

Across the state, there have been 4,235 flu diagnoses and 19 flu-related deaths during this flu season. Between Feb. 4 and 10 there were 1,268 lab-confirmed cases in Delaware.

Richman said the Department of Correction doesn’t track flu cases year-by-year, but said there were about 70 total cases two years ago. During that time, most of the cases were in prisons in the northern part of the state. This year, there have been more flu cases in central and southern prisons.

“It always concerns all of us on the medical and facility side, because we want to make sure we’re taking care of the offenders who are sick, and as important, making sure we’re keeping the other offenders and staff flu free,” Richman said.

Staff are regularly cleaning surfaces and door knobs, monitoring prisoners and staff daily, asking sick staff to stay home and isolating inmates who are diagnosed with the flu. Inmates with the flu are treated with Tamiflu, and those with compromised health are watched closely. Visitations are still being allowed, but visits from children under 16 has been suspended.

“Our preventative efforts are fairly significant, we do this routinely, our security and medical staff are well rehearsed in doing this, and we are treating all who are showing signs of flu— elevated temperature and physical symptoms,” Richman said.

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