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New report shows sharp rise in North Carolina flu deaths

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — New numbers out Thursday show the flu outbreak in North Carolina isn't slowing down.

On Thursday, health officials revealed that 34 new flu-related deaths were reported last week, bringing the total number of people who have died to 140.

In South Carolina, 106 people have died from the flu and leaders there just announced 22 more deaths Wednesday.

Doctors told Channel 9 they are worried the flu is going to keep spreading.

Hand sanitizer helps keep the flu at bay, but doctors said many patients are spreading the virus by not following doctor’s instructions.

Parents are sending their children to school while they are battling a bug.

Lauren Nussbaum brought her daughter, Julianna, to a public park to play alone, but she's been making sure her Julianna stays away from sick children at her school.

“She's been doing half days, just because in the afternoon she's been doing activities with other kids,” Nussbaum said.

Pediatrician Chris Branner said too many sick adults and children are spreading this virus.

“A lot of teenage patients and high school students are anxious to get back,” Branner said. “They go back when they are not healthy.”

Some health providers are reporting shortages of flu test kits and antiviral medicines, such as Tamiflu.

Carolinas Medical Center and the Mecklenburg County Health Department are well stocked, and they can typically identify the need for flu treatment without a test.

“We can evaluate each patient and look at signs, symptoms and risk factors,” Branner said.

Local pharmacies have run out of generic antivirals, including Tamiflu, in the past.

Fortunately, many are doing OK now, which is good news to local families and is keeping the virus at bay.

“The less exposure she has, the healthier she'll be, and I have a little one at home, too,” Nussbaum said.

South Carolina Department of Heath and Environmental Control said there were more than 18,700 cases of flu last week. More than 500 people were admitted to hospitals with the flu.

The agency said more than 81,000 cases have been confirmed since the flu season started.

Greenville County leads the state in flu cases, with more than 3,000 last week.

Nationwide, health officials said, more than 14,000 patients have been hospitalized so far this flu season, which is double the amount at the same time last year and the highest number of flu-related hospitalizations ever recorded.

FLU SEASON COVERAGE:

The new numbers came out the same week as another report showing the Charlotte region is among the nation's top hot spots for the flu, according to a new report by DoctorsReport.com.

The report lists 14 areas in the U.S. where the flu has been most severe using data drawn from a national database of doctor-diagnosed and reported cases over the past seven days.

The Charlotte area landed at No. 2 on the list, right below Minneapolis, a city that just hosted more than 1 million visitors for the Super Bowl.

The locations are ranked according to a severity scale, with 10 being the most severe and zero being the least severe.

The top metro areas for severe flu cases are:

  1. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI, 9.5
  2. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC, 9.5
  3. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA, 9.0
  4. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA, 9.0
  5. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN, 8.0
  6. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL, 7.5
  7. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD, 7.0
  8. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV, 7.0
  9. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX, 6.5
  10. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA, 6.0
  11. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD, 5.5
  12. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI, 5.0
  13. Pittsburgh, PA, 5.0
  14. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI, 4.5

The current severity rankings for Flu A, a different category of influenza, are:

  1. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL, 8.5
  2. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA, 7.0
  3. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD, 7.0
  4. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI, 6.0
  5. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC, 6.0
  6. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA, 5.5
  7. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI, 4.5
  8. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL, 4.5
  9. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX, 4.0
  10. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV, 4.0
  11. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA, 4.0
  12. Pittsburgh, PA, 4.0

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a respiratory illness caused by viruses infecting the nose, throat and lungs. The flu can be severe and life-threatening, especially for the young and very weak. Flu-related illnesses include pneumonia, asthma and dehydration.

Influence Type A Flu A can be particularly serious for infants, the elderly and immune-compromised people.

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