Health department says flu is now widespread in North Carolina; confirms 35 flu deaths so far in the 2018-19 season

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A total of 35 people in North Carolina have died from the flu this season, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

The latest flu numbers were released Feb. 7. With them the health department said the flu is now considered widespread in the Tar Heel state.

In North Carolina, 391 flu deaths were reported during the 2017-2018 flu season -- the most reported during a flu season since adult flu deaths became reportable in the state in 2009.

Of those 391 deaths, 290 were people age 65 and older and seven were children under the age of 18.

This year, 26 of the 35 deaths were people over the age of 65. The other 9 fatalities were people between 18 and 64.

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The department of health defines a flu-related death as a "death resulting from a clinically compatible illness that was confirmed to be influenza by an appropriate laboratory or rapid diagnostic test with no period of complete recovery between the illness and death."

Officials are already reporting that influenza cases are higher than this time a year ago.

Because of that increase, many hospitals have banned children under the age of 12 from visiting to prevent the spreading of the virus.

The CDC recommends vaccination against the flu for everyone 6 months and older.

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