15 new flu deaths reported in North Carolina

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The flu emergency continues to rage across North Carolina. The State Department of Health and Human Services reports 15 new deaths last week, bringing the total to 114 so far this season.

In Wake County, 13 people have died from the flu. All of the victims were in a high risk group. Twelve were age 65 or older. One of the victims was a young child.

The numbers were released Thursday as a major health conference was held. Health directors from every county in the state were in Raleigh for DHHS' annual conference. Much of the meeting was focused on the deadly flu epidemic.

"I would have to say this has been a challenging year because of the vaccine not being 100 percent where we'd like it to be," said Wake County Health Director Sue Lynn Ledford.

DHHS secretary Aldona Wos stressed at the conference how important it is for people to get their flu shot.

"It does cover, very well, three of the strains that are out circulating," said Ledford. "We do recommend that you still receive the vaccine."

State officials also say it is imperative for people to seek medical care as soon as they start experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Doctors' offices continue to be busy as people come through to be tested for influenza.

"There is a 48 hour period where the anti-viral medication that we use is most effective. After that 48 hour period, it's not as effective as it used to be," said WakeMed physician Dr. Tiffany Lowe-Payne.

Officials are reminding people that doing things as simple as washing your hands and staying away from other who are sick can help protection you from influenza.

"Flu is serious every year and I think people sometimes forget that, but flu has a dramatic impact on our population every year," said Ledford.

Wilson County tells ABC11 that two people have died there after getting the flu. No deaths have been reported in Durham, Johnston and Cumberland counties.

Get more information at www.flu.nc.gov.

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