Flu kills 2 people in NC, marking first deaths of the season

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A patient receives a flu shot (Photo: WWAY)

Two people died in North Carolina due to complications from flu-related infections in October, marking the first flu-related deaths of the 2017-18 season, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

State health officials said Thursday that one of the deaths occurred in the Piedmont region, while the other person died in the eastern part of the state.

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Personal information on the victims will not be released to protect the privacy of their families, officials said.

“We offer our deepest sympathies to the families,” State Epidemiologist Zack Moore said. “These personal losses are also a reminder for all of us that flu can be a serious illness. We strongly encourage people to protect themselves by getting a flu shot this season if they haven’t already.”

According to officials, flu infections are most common from late fall to early spring in North Carolina, with peak activity in January or February.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months or older get a yearly flu vaccination. For the second year in a row, the CDC is recommending the injectable vaccine instead of the nasal spray due to concerns about the spray’s effectiveness.

Channel 9 has been told that South Carolina has not had any reports of flu-related deaths this season.

According to studies cited by the CDC, vaccination against the flu can:

  • Protect people who are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill from flu, like older adults, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions (including obesity) and young children
  • Make illness milder and reduce the risk of more serious outcomes
  • Protect pregnant women and their developing babies

People should take the following precautions to protect against the spread of flu and other viruses:

  • Stay home when sick until fever-free for at least 24 hours
  • Wash hands frequently, preferably with soap and water
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then discard the tissue promptly