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Health Team

Wake County counts 3 dead from flu

Posted January 11, 2018 1:12 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 9:56 a.m. EDT

— In a flu season that has reached near-epidemic proportions nationwide, three people in Wake County have lost their lives.

Across North Carolina, a total of 26 deaths have been attributed to the flu since Oct. 1. Compare that to 219 deaths in the winter of 2016-17.

The outbreak has prompted hospitals to limit visits by children to keep the virus from spreading within their walls. WakeMed, Duke University, UNC Hospitals and the Cape Fear Valley Health system, including Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, Highsmith-Rainey Specialty Hospital, Hoke Hospital, Bladen County Hospital, Betsy Johnson Hospital and Central Harnett Hospital, all have limits on when and where children under 12 can visit.

The flu is most deadly for those with compromised immune systems, the very young and the very old, but doctors recommend a flu vaccine for just about everyone. Those who have yet to be vaccinated can still do so – low-cost and free vaccines are available at many pharmacies – to reduce the chance of contracting the flu or to ease the symptoms should they get sick.

Tips to avoid flu

1. Avoid people who are sick. Keep your distance from people who are coughing, sneezing or presenting other flu symptoms. People suffering from the flu should stay off from work until their symptoms subside.

2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth, according to the CDC. Wash your hands frequently.

3. Clean your cellphone. Disinfect surfaces that you touch frequently, which become a hotbed for germs. Disinfect your keyboard, cellphone, work phone, desk and other surfaces you touch often. Consider using hand sanitizer after touching doors in public spaces. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

4. Strengthen your immune system. A germ invades successfully and makes you sick, according to Harvard Medical School. Is it possible to intervene in this process and boost your immune system?

"Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies," Harvard medical officials found. Healthy steps to build your immune system include:

Don't smoke.

Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.

Exercise regularly.

Maintain a healthy weight.

If you drink alcohol, only drink in moderation.

Get adequate sleep.

Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.

Try to minimize stress.