RALEIGH, N.C. — A 3-year-old Rowan County girl has died from the flu, the ninth victim in North Carolina during the flu season.
It is at least the second flu-related death recorded in Rowan County. A 3-year-old girl died on Christmas Day of complications from the flu.
As for the most recent death, State Health Director Dr. Leah Devlin said the 4-year-old was seen by a doctor Dec. 27. The girl died at home the next day.
A post-mortem lab culture confirmed that the girl had the flu.
Devlin said North Carolina averages 15 child deaths a year from flu and pneumonia.
"A child's death is always tragic, and the public health community is saddened when something like this happens," Devlin said. "But, we need to remember that the flu is the sixth-leading cause of death for young children. That's true in any flu season."
Devlin also noted that the flu is particularly hard on seniors.
"The child deaths are getting the attention, but the flu is responsible for killing 1,000 North Carolinians every year, and most of those people are seniors," she said. "These people usually die as the result of post-flu complications, most likely pneumonia. Anyone over the age of 65 who has not yet gotten a pneumococcal vaccine should get one to protect themselves from this very serious complication."
Devlin said that people should remain alert for possible flu infection.
This flu season, more than five times the number of children have been immunized than were immunized in past flu seasons. Last year, 29,000 high-risk North Carolina children got their flu shots through the state's immunization program, while more than 153,000 have been immunized this year.