Flu cases in Carolinas begin to pile up at start of season

by: Gina Esposito Updated:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Flu season in the Carolinas started last week but new numbers out Thursday show the cases are already starting to pile up.

Since flu season started earlier this year, doctors at Novant Health are recommending that people get the vaccine immediately since it takes 10 days to kick in.

“We saw our first case about a month ago and I think it’s increasing,” medical director Dr. Charles Bregier said.

North Carolina unveiled the first week’s flu report. It showed no one died in the state, but the virus is sporadic.

[LINK: NC Week 1 Flu Report]

South Carolina also released its first flu report and it showed minimal activity in York County.

[LINK: SC Week 1 Flu Report]

Bregier said it’s hard to say when the flu virus will be the most dangerous.

The virus peaked in February during the last flu season. In North Carolina, 219 people died, including eight people in Mecklenburg County, in February and March.

Health officials said most of the victims were 65 and older.

[LINK: CDC Flu Information]

But Bregier said there’s also a risk for young children. Many are getting shots for the first time, and that process requires a double dose of the vaccine.

He said that early forecasts show the vaccine will work.

Channel 9 reported two weeks ago that doctors model the vaccine after Australia’s and southern Asia’s flu season.

“It is important to note that it was a bad flu season in Australia. It was about three times as high as normal. Often that can be a negative predictor for us here,” Bregier said.

Health officials advise getting the vaccine by November because it lasts about six months, which is around the time flu season ends.

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