Local/State

Flu deaths in North Carolina rise to 13

Thursday, January 02, 2014

North Carolina health officials said Thursday there have been five more deaths related to influenza this flu season, bringing the total statewide to 13.

The Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging people to get a flu shot if they haven't already gotten one.

Click here for more information on where to get a flu shot

"It's really hard to predict whether this will be a better or worse season than last year," said Dr. Zack Moore, with N.C. DHHS.

Moore says the virus is affecting children and younger adults in their 30s, 40s and 50s this season. He believes that this is just the beginning of the nationwide peak.

"Unfortunately, we expect that we will see more serious illnesses and deaths as the season goes on," said Moore.

In addition to frequent handwashing and coughing or sneezing into a sleeve, Moore urges everyone to get vaccinated.

"There's plenty of vaccine out there," said Moore. "There may be some pharmacies or doctor's offices that may be out of it. So it's a good idea to call ahead."

High demand for flu shots has put some strain on supply. Some smaller pharmacies ran out this week. However, most of the larger chain pharmacies and many doctors still have them in stock.

Duke University Health System hospitals, UNC Health Care, and Rex Healthcare are all restricting visitation because of the rise in flu infections across the Triangle.

Duke said ambulatory surgery patients are being limited to immediate family, or designated care givers, 18 and older.

UNC and Rex said children younger than 12 will be prohibited from visiting patients in the Rex Special Care Nursery. Children will be allowed to visit patients in other areas of Rex Hospital, unless they have flu-like symptoms. The restrictions are temporary and similar to what were in place last year during flu season.

Flu season typically peaks during January and February.

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