KeepHealthCare.ORG – Record number of flu deaths grow by 10 in latest NC count | State / Region
As the 2017-18 flu season in North Carolina continues to wind down, state health officials reported another 10 victims Thursday for a modern-day record of 372.
Although the six-month season officially ended March 31, it has been known in the past to linger several weeks into April.
There were two deaths confirmed from the week that ended April 14, as well as an additional eight victims who died in previous weeks and were later determined to have had the flu.
By comparison, the most deaths for any week so far were 54 for the week that ended Feb. 17. That count was up two from the previous report. There also were 47 deaths for the week that ended Feb. 3.
Dr. David Priest, an infectious disease specialist with Novant Health Inc., said last week that influenza activity “continues to decline in both our acute care facilities and in our ambulatory clinics.”
No flu-related deaths have been reported publicly in the Triad and Northwest North Carolina. Some county health directors have declined to disclose flu-related deaths, citing DHHS privacy policies.
In the latest victim total, eight individuals were ages 65 and older and four were ages 59 to 64.
For this flu season, there have been 275 deaths among people 65 or older; 68 among ages 50 to 64; 18 among ages 25 to 49; six among ages 5 to 17; four among ages 18 to 24; and one child under 4.
The 2016-17 and 2014-15 seasons each had 218 confirmed flu-related deaths. DHHS began public reporting of weekly flu data in the 2001-02 season, with victim totals disclosed beginning with the 2008-09 season.
Besides the elderly, other vulnerable groups are children younger than 5, pregnant women and those with pre-existing medical conditions.
Influenza data gathered by DHHS indicated there was another decrease last week in flu-related visits to hospital emergency departments and provider offices.
There were 147 confirmed flu cases among the state’s seven largest hospital networks, representing 1.2 percent of the 12,135 confirmed flu cases those hospitals have experienced for the season.
By comparison, for the week that ended Feb. 3, there were 1,543 confirmed flu cases.
The predominant strain picked up in lab tests so far this season is a strain of influenza A known as H3N2. Flu experts and state health officials have said the influenza B strain still is circulating.