DHHS: Seasonal flu deaths rise to 27

by: Tenikka Smith Updated:


NORTH CAROLINA - Five more people have died from the flu in North Carolina bringing the total to 27 since October.

Most of the deaths continue to be people between 25 and 49 years old. State health officials said Monday an infant from eastern North Carolina is the first child to die from the flu during the 2013-14 season.

The flu virus can spread quickly on college campuses like Queens University.

Health Center Director Nurse Jill Perry said the campus started offering vaccines as early as September.

Nurses at the Health and Wellness Center said they saw their first flu cases in November and now they are averaging one to two students a day. So far they've seen a 12 percent increase in flu cases over this time last year.

"As students come back from winter break they've been all over the country and world and they've had many opportunities to contract the flu and bring it back home here," Perry said.

The dominant strain in this year's flu virus is H1N1 or swine flu. It's hitting adults between 25 and 49 hard. The group makes up half the 27 flu deaths in North Carolina since October.

Nurses are encouraging hand washing and giving out sanitizer. They are also urging students to get flu shots and working to dispel myths or concerns about the safety of flu vaccines.

Music Therapy major Matrisha Stafford said she probably wouldn't get the flu shot.

"I got the flu shot three years ago and I got the flu so I haven't gotten it since then," Stafford said.

"I'm from Hickory and I saw a report that three people have died in Catawba County from the flu that scares me enough to get the flu shot," said classmate Christa Buff.

Of the 21 flu samples given to the state lab for testing this week, 15 tested positive for H1N1.

Read more information from the Centers for Disease Control on the flu by clicking here.

Read more information from NC DHHS on the flu by clicking here.