The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting three new flu deaths in North Carolina last week including the death of a child.
The child, who is from the central part of the state, is North Carolina’s first child death from the flu for the 2017-18 flu season. To protect the family’s privacy, the child’s hometown, county, and gender are not being released.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the child’s family,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore. “If anything positive comes from this tragic loss, we hope it will be that people understand that flu is a serious illness. Flu vaccination is the most effective protection against flu, and it’s still not too late to get a flu shot.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nine pediatric flu deaths have been reported this season from other states as of Dec. 16. Up to half of children who die from the flu have no known medical condition that would have put them at higher risk said the CDC.
The three new flu deaths bring the North Carolina total to 12 deaths since October. Six of those deaths were people 65 and older.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is advising citizens who think they might have the flu to contact their doctor right away to see if they need treatment with a prescription antiviral drug such as Tamiflu.
The Department of Health said early treatment with an antiviral drug can help prevent flu infections from becoming more serious. Treatment with a prescription antiviral drug is especially important for hospitalized patients, people with severe flu illness and people who are at high risk of serious flu complications based on their age or health.
Other precautions people can take to protect against the spread of flu and other viruses include:
~Staying home when sick until fever-free for at least 24 hours,
~Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then discarding the tissue promptly,
~Washing hands frequently, preferably with soap and water.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is telling the public “don’t be a shot dodger”, and is encouraging North Carolinians to get the flu shot as soon as you can.