First North Carolina flu death in current season recorded
Published 9:06 pm Thursday, October 24, 2019
On Oct. 24, officials with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health announced the first reported flu-related death of the 2019-20 flu season. The death occurred the first week of October and involved an adult in the central part of the state. To protect the privacy of the family, the person’s hometown, county, age and gender will not be released.
During the 2018-19 flu season, 208 flu deaths were reported in North Carolina, down from 391 deaths during the 2017-18 flu season. Of those 208 deaths, 133 were people age 65 and older and five were under the age of 18.
The CDC recommends vaccination against the flu for everyone 6 months and older with any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine. According to the CDC, vaccination is the best way to prevent infection with the flu. Vaccination can also make illness milder for those who do get the flu, making it especially important for those at higher risk of more serious outcomes, such as people over 65 years old, children younger than 5, pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Flu vaccinations are available at hospitals, pharmacies, private medical offices, some federally qualified health care centers and local health departments.
In North Carolina, flu infections are most common from late fall to early spring with activity usually peaking in January or February. The following precautions should be taken to protect against the spread of flu and other viruses:
– Stay home when sick until fever-free for at least 24 hours.
– Wash hands frequently, preferably with soap and water.
– Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then discard the tissue promptly.
Health officials advise that anyone who thinks they have the flu should contact their doctor right away to see if they need treatment with a prescription antiviral drug. Early treatment with an antiviral drug can help prevent flu infections from becoming more serious. Treatment with a prescription antiviral drug is especially important for hospitalized patients, people with severe flu illness and those who are at high risk of serious flu complications based on their age or health.
The Division of Public Health’s surveillance for the 2019-20 flu season began Sept. 29 and will continue through late May. A surveillance summary that includes information on flu-related deaths and activity is posted every Thursday at flu.ncdhhs.gov.