RALEIGH, N.C. — Officials with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health announced Thursday the first reported flu-related death of the 2020-21 flu season.
According to officials, the death occurred the first week of October and involved an adult over 65 years of age in the central part of the state.
To protect the privacy of the family, the person's hometown, county, age and gender will not be released.
“This is a sad reminder that flu can be a serious illness and can lead to complications and even death in some cases,” said State Epidemiologist Zack Moore, M.D., MPH. “With flu season starting during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for people to get a flu vaccine this year.”
During the 2019-20 flu season, 186 flu deaths were reported in North Carolina, down from 208 deaths during the 2018-19 flu season. Of those 186 deaths, 105 were people age 65 and older and five were under the age of 18.
In North Carolina, flu infections are most common from late fall to early spring with activity usually peaking in January or February. In addition to getting a flu vaccine, the following precautions should be taken to protect against the spread of flu, COVID-19 and other viruses:
- Continue to practice the 3Ws — wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth, waiting 6 feet apart, and washing your hands often can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and flu
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then discard the tissue promptly
- Stay home when sick, except to seek medical care or testing, and take steps to avoid spreading infection to others in your home, including:
- Staying in a separate room from other household members, if possible
- Using a separate bathroom, if possible
- Avoiding contact with other members of the household and pets
- Not sharing personal household items like cups, towels and utensils
- Wearing a mask when around other people, if you are able to
Individuals who feel ill should call ahead before going to a doctor’s office, local health department or urgent care to avoid exposing others. COVID-19 and flu symptoms are similar, so consult with a doctor about getting tested for flu and/or COVID-19. Flu symptoms include:
- Cough and/or sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Headaches and/or body aches
- Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea (most common in children)
Anyone who thinks they have the flu should also contact their doctor right away to see if they need treatment with a prescription antiviral drug.