4 new flu deaths reported last week in NC
Posted March 23
Four new flu deaths were reported in North Carolina last week, bringing the total number of deaths this flu season to 126, according to the North Carolina Department of Health.
The deaths were reported between March 12 and March 18.
"And, of course, that's not all the flu associated deaths. Those are the ones who actually got tested and it actually got reported," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Zach Moore.
Moore said people over the age of 65 account for about two-thirds of all flu associated deaths this year. The prevalent flu strain is influenza A-H3N2.
"We know in seasons where you have a lot of H3N2 you're going to see more illness, more deaths. There's still some influenza A going around, a fair amount of influenza B going around," he said.
Lee Christian School in Sanford canceled classes Thursday and Friday because about 10 percent of the 400 students enrolled in the school had the flu. The school has hired a company to clean the building to prevent further spreading of the illness.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Some people — such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions — are at high risk for serious flu complications. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year.
Moore said the vaccine is proven to be only about 50 percent effective.
"We wish we had a vaccine that was over 100 percent, but anything you can do to cut your risk in half is certainly worth doing," he said.
Flu symptoms include:
- A 100 degree or higher fever or feeling feverish (not everyone with the flu has a fever)
- A cough and/or sore throat
- A runny or stuffy nose
- Headaches and/or body aches
- Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children)
Although the 126 reported deaths so far this season is high, Moore said things were worse in 2015 when there were more than 200 reported deaths.