Five more people died of complications of the flu in North Carolina last week, as the number of cases in the state rose after declining for three weeks, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.
Since the flu season began last fall, 136 people in the state have died from the viral illness. That’s more than twice as many as all of last flu season but less than the 218 who died during the 2014-2015 flu season. The majority of this year’s deaths – 93 – were among people age 65 or older, a sign that the most prevalent strain of the flu this year, Influenza A H3N2, is particularly hard on older people.
The flu season appeared to have peaked in late February, when a state survey of clinics, hospitals and health departments found that nearly 8 percent of visits were for flu-like illnesses. That number declined for three straight weeks, to a bit more than 3 percent of visits, but rebounded last week to more than 5 percent.
The number of flu deaths in the state peaked during the first full week of March, at 27.
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The Department of Health and Human Services describes the geographic spread of flu as “widespread” in North Carolina.