Flu season advancing in North CarolinaDecember 23, 2014, 9:31 am
Based on data collected by the Division of Public Health, the number of people reporting to North Carolina hospital emergency departments and outpatient clinics for influenza-like illness is climbing, indicating that flu is advancing across our state.
North Carolina recorded its fifth flu-related death during the week ending Dec. 13 and the percent of doctor visits related to influenza-like illnesses more than doubled compared to the first week of the month. Influenza, or flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.
"If you've been putting off getting your flu shot, now's the time to get one," said Dr. Zack Moore, medical epidemiologist with the N.C. Division of Public Health. "Your chances of becoming ill with flu are far higher without the vaccine."
Moore advises to protect yourself and your family against seasonal flu by getting vaccinated and taking everyday precautions to check the spread of flu washing hands, covering your cough, and staying home from work or school if you are sick.
If you are at high risk for flu-related complications and experience flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider as soon as possible. Your provider can prescribe antiviral medications, which can make your illness milder and shorter and also can lessen serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization or death. These medications work best when started within two days of the onset of flu symptoms, but can still be helpful when given later in the course of illness.
People at high risk for serious flu complications include: people with underlying chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or neurological conditions; pregnant women; those younger than 5 years or older than 65 years of age; or anyone with a weakened immune system
More information about flu, and where to get vaccines in North Carolina is on the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services web page: http://www.flu.nc.gov.