Flu deaths in North Carolina rise to 64

February 16, 2014 1:29:14 PM PST
North Carolina could be looking at a record year for flu deaths, or at the very least a near record year.

North Carolina health officials released new flu numbers Friday, saying seven more people have died in the last week.

That brings the total number of deaths from flu-related complications this influenza season statewide to 64, and the flu season is not over.

To put this year's numbers in perspective, death rates are already higher than last year when the state saw 59 flu deaths for the whole season, and only nine deaths the year before.

With such high numbers in North Carolina, health officials are recommending that people who are not vaccinated go out and get their flu shot.

"I would anticipate another month, maybe six weeks. So the answer to your question is no, it's not too late to get a flu vaccine, and definitely I would recommend everyone get one," said Dr. Scott McGeary, with Accent Urgent Care.

Doctor McGeary says it has been an unusual flu season. Not only has it been long, with doctors diagnosing cases well before Thanksgiving, but it has also hit young adults between the ages of 25 and 49 particularly hard.

"Far and away the most predominant flu strain has been the h1n1 or swine flu," McGeary said.

"The elderly actually seem are at less of a risk...anyone around in the 1950s when we saw a pandemic of h1n1 it seems have some measure of immunity to it," he added.

Health officials say it is important to seek medical care if you or someone you know suspect you are coming down with flu-like symptoms.

"Fever, body aches, cough, headache, then you should seek out treatment because leaving it untreated can definitely result in pretty significant and dangerous complications," McGeary said.

That includes secondary infections such as pneumonia, which are proving fatal in many of these cases.

Doctors say when you come to clinics they can put you on antiviral medicine, and they like to get you started on that 48-72 hours after you first show symptoms. Doing so can help you lessen the severity of your symptoms and help protect you from some of those dangerous secondary infections.

For more information on flu prevention and to find out where you can get a flu vaccination in your community, visit www.flu.nc.gov.

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