An additional 17 flu deaths were reported in North Carolina for the week ending March 4, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Flu activity has started to decrease but the virus is still widespread in the state.
The total number of influenza-associated deaths reported this season, which started Oct. 2, is now 83. The two most recent weekly flu reports have accounted for 33 of those deaths.
State health officials encourage all residents to protect themselves and others against the flu. Although vaccination earlier in the season is preferred, flu vaccine is still available and is the best way to protect yourself and others from the spread of this dangerous, sometimes deadly virus.
During the 2014-15 season, North Carolina recorded 218 deaths, the highest number of flu-associated deaths reported since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. There were 59 flu-associated deaths reported during the 2015-16 season. These reports do not represent the true number of flu-associated deaths, since many cases are not diagnosed or not reported. However, they serve as a reminder that flu can be a serious illness, especially for adults over 65, children under five, pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease.
Everyone should use precautions to protect against the spread of flu and other viruses, including:
- Wash hands frequently, preferably with soap and water or an approved hand sanitizer
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then discard the tissue promptly
- If you are sick, stay home until you have been fever free for at least 24 hours
For more information on flu and to find out where you can get a flu vaccination in your community, visit www.flu.nc.gov.
Weekly updates on flu surveillance data are now available at www.flu.nc.gov.