First flu death reported in NC this season

First flu death reported in NC this season
The NC Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed the first flu-related death of the influenza season. (Source: WECT)

NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - The NC Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed the first flu-related death of the influenza season.

According to the agency, the death involved an adult in the central part of the state in late October.

“We are very saddened by this death and send condolences to the loved ones of this person,” said State Epidemiologist Zack Moore, M.D., MPH. “Flu is always a serious illness, and in some cases can lead to complications and result in death, which is why we strongly encourage people to get vaccinated early and annually.”

It is recommended everyone over 6 months old be vaccinated against the flu. The vaccine can make the illness milder and reduce the risk of more serious outcomes. The CDC says it is especially important for those at higher risk of complications, such as people over 65 years old, children younger than 5, pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

In North Carolina, flu infections are most common from late fall to early spring with activity usually peaking in January or February, according to NCDHHS.

Meet the Shot Dodgers

Take these precautions to protect against the spread of flu and other viruses:

  • Stay home when sick until fever-free for at least 24 hours 
  • Wash hands frequently, preferably with soap and water 
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then discard the tissue promptly 

Be sure to contact your doctor immediately if you think you have the flu. Early treatment with an antiviral drug can help prevent flu infections from becoming more serious.

The Division of Public Health’s surveillance for the 2018-19 flu season began Sept. 30 and will continue through late May.

During the 2017-18 flu season, 391 flu deaths were reported in North Carolina, the highest death toll in a single flu season since it became a requirement to report adult flu deaths to public health officials in 2009. Of those 391 deaths, 290 were people age 65 and older and seven were under the age of 18.

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