Three more people died of complications of the flu in North Carolina last week, including the first child of the season, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.
The death toll from the flu this season in the state has now reached 19, mostly people age 65 and older. The most common influenza virus this season – Influenza A H3N2 – tends to affect older people more severely, according to Dr. Zack Moore, the state’s acting epidemiologist.
The state would only say that the child who died on Jan. 24 lived in the western part of the state. State officials say that while the flu can be particularly hard on the elderly, young children and people with other health problems, up to half of children who die from flu have no known medical condition that would put them at a higher risk.
Also last week, the prevalence of flu-like illnesses in the state ticked up after peaking in late December, according to a survey of clinics, hospitals and health departments. State officials urged people who think they have the flu to seek medical attention immediately, and say it isn’t too late to get a flu shot.
“Flu vaccination is the most effective protection against flu,” Moore said. “There is still time to protect yourself and your loved ones. Even though it’s February, we expect flu to be circulating for the next several weeks.”