The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) today confirmed tularemia as the biological agent released at the June 21 Green and Black football game in Newark . Delaware Public Health Laboratory (DPHL) Director Dr. Jane Getchell announced that the lab tested samples taken from people attending or in the vicinity of the football game.
Dr. Getchell said that while the laboratory testing initially confirmed tularemia, lab personnel must still complete confirmation procedures. Such procedures include a preliminary test upon completion of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, which could take up to 24 hours. After that, PCR results must be confirmed by further patient testing, which could take up to five or more days.
As of June 24 at 1:00 p.m., DPH reported 319 confirmed cases statewide with two deaths.
Tularemia is not spread by person-to-person contact and can be treated with antibiotics for asymptomatic people. If untreated, people can experience chest pain, catch pneumonia, have difficulty breathing or even stop breathing, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.
DPH Director Dr. Jaime H. Rivera asks Delawareans who are not sick, but who were at or near the June 21 Green and Black football game at the North Delaware University in Newark on June 21, to report to one of three NEHCs established at Delaware Technical and Community College campuses:
These people need to be assessed by NEHC medical personnel because of their potential exposure, Dr. Rivera said. Up to 7,000 people attended the June 21 football game at the intersection of Route 896 and Route 4.
People with symptoms should report directly to any hospital emergency department. Symptoms of tularemia are a fever over 100 degrees, shortness of breath and backaches similar to a severe bout of the flu. Antibiotic supplies in the state are sufficient to treat all exposed to the illness. Physicians will refer very sick people to established acute care centers as needed, Dr. Rivera said.
For more information, call the DPH Call Center 24 hours daily at 1-800-577-1111.