North Carolina recorded its first flu death of the season last week, state officials announced Thursday, but the season is proving to be much milder than last year.
The number of flu-like illnesses reported by a network of outpatient clinics in the state plunged last week, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. Fewer than 1 percent of people visiting the clinics reported flu-like illnesses, compared to 3 percent the week before and about 8 percent during the same week last year.
By this time last year, 104 people had died of the flu in North Carolina, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had declared a national flu epidemic.
The person who died of the flu last week was 65 or older. Flu deaths are often most common among the elderly or people with compromised immune systems.
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Besides getting vaccinated, the best way to avoid getting the flu is to avoid contact with people who have flu-like symptoms and to wash hands frequently with soap and water.