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Health Team

More young people die of flu in NC

Posted January 2, 2014 12:25 p.m. EST
Updated January 9, 2014 5:56 a.m. EST

— Cases of the flu jumped in North Carolina in December, and 13 people have died from the flu virus, according to data from the state Department of Health and Human Services. Five of those deaths occurred last week.

Of the 13 flu deaths in the state, all but one have been younger than age 65. Seven were between 25 and 49; five were between 50 and 64. At the same point last year, 18 people had died of the virus.

"People over a certain age tend to have a little bit more protection against H1N1, because they were exposed to similar viruses in the past or were vaccinated against similar viruses in the past," said Dr. Zach Moore, with the N.C. Division of Public Health.

Moore advises people to get a flu shot, even though it takes two weeks to build up immunity.

WakeMed's emergency departments have seen 246 cases of the flu since Dec. 15. Most people can fight it at home with plenty of rest and Tylenol, but WakeMed emergency physician Dr. Graham Snyder says shortness of breath at rest may be a reason to call 911.

"You're sitting on the couch and can't breathe – that doesn't need to be at home, that's the kind of thing that I need to see you for," he said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and DHHS recommend the flu vaccine for everyone over the age of 6 months. This year's vaccine includes protection for Influenza A and B, along with the H1N1 strain of the flu.

As a precaution against further spread of the flu virus, major hospital systems – UNC, Duke and Rex – are restricting visitors with cough, fever and other flu-like symptoms.

Flu symptoms

  • Fever
  • Coughing and/or sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Headaches and/or body aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue