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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News State DHHS Confirms Three Adult Deaths in NC Linked to Seasonal Flu

DHHS Confirms Three Adult Deaths in NC Linked to Seasonal Flu

RALEIGH, N.C. : December 3, 2013 - The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services today announced the state's first three adult deaths linked to infection with seasonal influenza. The patients were from Eastern North Carolina, the Triad region, and the Charlotte area, respectively. All three patients were middle aged adults who were at increased risk for complications due to underlying medical conditions. All passed away during the past two weeks after testing positive for Influenza A, one of the main types of flu responsible for seasonal flu epidemics each year.
"We extend our deepest sympathy to all of the families on their loss," said Acting State Health Director Robin Gary Cummings, M.D. "We hope that these tragic cases will help alert other people to the risks associated with contracting flu."
According to public health officials, cases of flu in our state have been relatively low so far this season, but are beginning to trend upward. Flu season typically peaks during January and February.
Complications from flu can be particularly dangerous for high risk groups including infants under 2, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or immune system problems.
"Anyone in a high risk group who gets the flu should see a doctor right away so they can receive treatment with an antiviral drug," Cummings said. "Early treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between a mild illness and a very serious illness."
Flu vaccination is the most effective treatment against the flu. If you have not gotten your flu vaccine yet this season, you should get one now. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against influenza virus infection. Flu vaccine is widely available and protects against the strains of flu circulating this year, including H1N1.
Flu vaccine is available in nasal spray and shot form.
If you plan to self-pay, the regular shot at CVS Pharmacy at 6435 Carolina Beach Road is $31. The high dose is $49.99. No appointment required and they accept insurance. When you go in for your shot, they give you a 20% off shopping pass.
At Walgreens in Carolina Beach the cost to self-pay without insurance is $31.99 for the regular shot.
"Several H1N1 cases recently reported in our state serve as a good reminder that it's not too early to be vaccinated," Dr. Wos said. "Even healthy people can get very sick if they get the flu and nobody wants to be out of work or school for an extended period. It's important to remember that we all can help keep our co-workers and our families healthy by being vaccinated."
DHHS recently implemented a mandatory flu vaccine policy for its 14 state-operated healthcare facilities. This measure is intended to curb the spread of flu among staff, residents, patients, volunteers and their families and close contacts.
DHHS has distributed nearly 200,000 doses of vaccine thus far to local health departments and health care providers to immunize children eligible for the Vaccines for Children Program, as well as certain uninsured adults who qualify for state-supplied vaccine.
In addition to state-supplied vaccine, many employers, local community organizations and pharmacies offer or sponsor flu clinics. Most insurance plans and Medicaid cover flu vaccinations.
This year's vaccine protects against the strains of flu that are expected to circulate this year, including H1N1. Vaccination is available in nasal spray and shot form.
Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses External link.
It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The safest, most effective way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone 6 months and older get their yearly flu vaccine.
In addition to vaccination, DHHS encourages everyone to use personal precautions to protect against the spread of flu and other viruses:
• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then discard the tissue promptly.
• Wash hands frequently, preferably with soap and water or an approved hand sanitizer.
• Stay home when you are sick until you are fever free for at least 24 hours.
For more information on flu and to find out where you can get a flu vaccination in your community, visit www.flu.nc.gov.
The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that could occur are:
• Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
• Fever (low grade)
• Aches
If these problems occur, they usually begin soon after the shot and last one to two days.
The nasal spray (also called LAIV or FluMist®): The viruses in the nasal-spray vaccine are weakened
and do not cause severe symptoms often associated with influenza illness. (In clinical studies, transmission of vaccine viruses to close contacts has occurred only rarely.)  In children, side effects from LAIV (FluMist®) can include:
•  runny nose
• wheezing
• headache
• vomiting
• muscle aches
• fever
In adults, side effects from LAIV (FluMist®) can include
• runny nose
• headache
• sore throat
• cough
For more information, visit the NC Flu Update at www.flu.nc.gov