Ten more people died from complications of the flu in North Carolina last week, but the prevalence of the viral illness appeared to level off after several weeks on the rise.
The week ending Feb. 18 was the deadliest so far in the flu season that began last fall; 44 people have now died of the flu in the state, including four children under the age of 18.
Most of the deaths have occurred among people age 65 or older, a reflection that the most common virus this season – Influenza A H3N2 – tends to affect older people more severely.
Also last week, the prevalence of flu-like illness was basically unchanged, according to a survey done by the state Department of Health and Human Services. Flu-like illnesses accounted for nearly 6 percent of visits to clinics, health departments and hospitals surveyed, up from 3 percent in late January.
The impact of the flu is being felt at clinics and schools in the Triangle. Clinics say flu-like illnesses are keeping them busy, while empty seats are more common this month at schools.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week that the flu vaccine protects about half the people who receive it – better than in some years but not as good as in others. Health officials say it’s still not too late to get vaccinated.