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Health Team

NC logs first flu-related death of the season

Posted November 1, 2018 11:48 a.m. EDT
Updated November 1, 2018 4:56 p.m. EDT

— State health officials on Thursday announced the first flu-related death of the season, raising fears that this season could rank among the worst in state history.

“We are very saddened by this death and send condolences to the loved ones of this person,” state Epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore said in a written statement. “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."

According to the state Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Public Health, the victim, who lived in the central part of the state, died last week.

State health officials did not elaborate on the circumstances of the victim's death and declined to reveal the victim's hometown, age or gender to protect the victim's privacy.

During the 2017-18 flu season, nearly 400 deaths in North Carolina were attributed to the flu, the highest death toll in a single flu season since state officials began publicly reporting flu deaths in 2009.

Of those 391 deaths, a vast majority of them -- 290 -- were people who were 65 years and older, while seven of them were under the age of 18, state officials said.

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

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

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu vaccinations for everyone 6 months and older.

For those who have been diagnosed with the flu, CDC guidelines say patients should:

  • 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.