North Carolina

Four more died of flu in NC last week

Four more people died of complications from the flu in North Carolina last week, according to the weekly update from the state Department of Health and Human Services.

That brings the number of deaths for the season to 183, adding to the highest seasonal death toll since the state began keeping track in 2009.

The H2N3 strain of the virus that is the most prevalent this season is particularly hard on the elderly. Of those who have died this season, 151 were age 65 or older. Only two were children, a vulnerable group in previous flu seasons.

The season is bad at least in part because the H2N3 strain evolved, making the vaccine substantially less effective than expected.

The season started earlier than normal and peaked at the end of December, according to reports on the number of patients appearing in emergency rooms and clinics with illnesses likely to be flu. Reports of flu-like illness increased slightly last week but remain far below the earlier peaks, according to the state.