State reports 26 new flu-related deaths
Posted January 15, 2015
Updated January 16, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — Twenty-six people in North Carolina died from influenza last week, bringing the total number of flu-related deaths in the state to 90 since the season began in October.
The data released Thursday by the state Department of Health and Human Services reflects a decrease in the number of deaths compared with a week earlier, when 38 people died from the virus.
Adults accounted for all of the deaths reported during the week ending Jan. 10. The gender and specific ages of the patients were not released.
Of the 23 samples submitted for testing last week, 15 were positive for flu, according to the data.
The decline may reflect what Rex Hospital emergency physician Dr. David Messerly has seen.
"We sort of saw a very quick ramp up and sort of a plateau, and it seems like maybe, if anything, this may be tailing off," he said.
People still come in with flu symptoms, but Messerly said it's not as dominant of a problem as it was.
"We're still quite busy, but I'm not convinced it's all influenza busy," he said. "I think this may be now just more of our traditional seasonal winter kind of busy."
Last year, 107 people in North Carolina died from flu during the season, which lasts from October to May.
Health officials earlier this month held a news conference to raise concerns about a spike in the number of flu deaths as the annual season reaches its peak. They urged residents to be extra-vigilant against the spread of the virus.
"In terms of intensity, the flu activity has been more intense as measured by visits to emergency departments," Dr. Megan Davies, state epidemiologist, said last week.
One reason for the spike in deaths, officials said, is that a specific strain of flu – H3N2, a type of Influenza A – is not well-matched to the flu vaccine for this season. Despite that, officials still recommend the flu vaccine for those who have not received it.