First flu death of the season reported in western NC

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- A person in western North Carolina died last week after complications from an influenza infection.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says it is the first flu death of the 2015-2016 season.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to the family," Acting State Health Director Dr. Megan Davies said in a statement Thursday. "We hope that by making people aware of this unfortunate case we will remind everyone that flu can be a serious disease and encourage people to protect themselves and their loved ones by getting vaccinated."

Officials say to protect the family's privacy, the person's hometown, county, age and gender are not being released. However, they do say this person also had underlying health issues.

People with underlying health issues fit into one of several high risk groups when it comes to the flu. Other groups are the elderly, pregnant women, and small children.

Raleigh resident Martina Aleman knows the risks all too well. She had a small cousin die several years ago from the flu.

Martina Aleman prepares to get her flu shot



"She was barely three years old when she died," Aleman told Eyewitness News.

The news of this latest death comes after North Carolina experienced a particular deadly flu season last season. Experts attribute the 218 deaths to the vaccine not covering that particular strain of the flu. At this time, officials don't anticipate that being a problem this season.

"We haven't had enough flu going around to base how good the match will be. Flu surveillance happens around the world, all year long. And based on what we've seen going on in the southern hemisphere during their flu season everything seems to be pretty well matched to the strains that are in the vaccine this year," said Dr. Zach Moore with DHHS.

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

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