30 new flu deaths reported in North Carolina

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The latest flu numbers were released Thursday, and last week North Carolina saw a large increase in deaths as a result of influenza. (WTVD)

The latest flu numbers were released Thursday, and last week North Carolina saw 30 new deaths as a result of influenza.

That brings the total statewide to 54 for this flu season. Flu deaths are now higher than they were in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons.

The numbers are compiled from reports submitted by providers to the North Carolina Division of Public Health.

Health officials say flu deaths often occur among people with weakened immune systems, but details on the large number of deaths announced Thursday were not released due to privacy concerns. Forty-two of this season's death involved people over the age of 65.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said flu had reached the epidemic level.

Local hospitals have beefed up restrictions to protect patients. WakeMed recently became the latest major medical center to change visitation rules due to the flu. The move means every major hospital from the Triangle to the Sandhills has flu restrictions in place.

The rules at WakeMed means there will be no visitors under 12 years old, patients can only receive two adult visitors at a time, and sick visitors are not welcome.

The H3n2 flu strain has been the dominant strain this season, and the current vaccine is less effective against it than other strains. While that makes the shots less effective, experts still recommend getting vaccinated.

Other simple precautions can help keep you from getting sick: Wash your hands and avoid contact with the ill. Health officials also urge anyone developing symptoms to stay home from work or school to slow the spread.

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

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