An elementary school-aged child from the Triangle has died from complications of flu, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported Thursday.
The death is the first in the state for the 2014-2015 flu season. The death comes at least a few weeks earlier than the first in recent flu seasons, but the onset - and end - of the season can shift each year by weeks or even months.
To protect the privacy of the family, the department didn't release the child's name, age or gender, but noted that the victim had been at risk for complications from the flu because of underlying medical conditions.
"We extend our thoughts and prayers to the family on their loss," said State Health Director Robin Cummings. "We hope that making people aware of this tragic case will encourage preventative measures and remind everyone that it is not too early to be vaccinated. We are very early in the flu season and we expect to see flu activity increase in the coming weeks and months."
According to DHHS, preventative measures that everyone can take to protect against the spread of flu and other viruses include:
Stay home when you are sick until you are fever free for at least 24 hours.
Vigorously wash hands frequently, preferably with soap and water.
Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then discard the tissue promptly.
Health officials also encourage people to protect themselves and their loved ones by getting the flu vaccination, which is now available. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine, which is available as a nasal spray or in shot form.