State reports first flu-related death

Published 7:10 pm Tuesday, December 14, 2021

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State health officials on Tuesday announced the first flu-related death of the 2021-22 flu season.

A release from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says an adult in the western part of the state died due to complications of influenza during the second week of December. The person’s hometown, county, age and gender were withheld for privacy purposes.

“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 Dr. Zack Moore. “With flu cases increasing and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for people to get a flu vaccine this year, as well as a COVID-19 vaccination or booster if they have not already done so.”

Beaufort County Health Director Jim Madson told the County Commissioners, earlier this month that cases of the flu are being reported at a higher level across the state. In an interview, Madson noted that the possibility of transmission of both the flu and COVID-19 will increase as people spend more time together indoors this winter. He urged county residents to stay home if they feel sick and wash their hands frequently.

Flu infections in North Carolina are most common from late fall to early spring with a peak usually in January or February, according to the NCDHHS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older. Flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same visit.

Influenza symptoms include fever, cough and/or sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and/or body aches, chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea.

The flu and COVID-19 are similar because they’re both contagious respiratory illnesses. The CDC says COVID-19 can cause more serious illnesses than the flu, and it can take longer before people with COVID-19 become symptomatic. Testing is the main tool used to diagnose whether someone has influenza, COVID-19 or both. A diagnosis can’t be made based on symptoms alone.

“Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the midst of the flu season, creating even more demand of our state’s hospital beds,” said NCDHHS Chief Deputy Secretary for Health Kody H. Kinsley. “It is important to get a COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot as soon as possible, and get your booster when you become eligible, to protect yourself and your family and to preserve hospital bed capacity for emergencies.”

As of Tuesday, heath officials knew of 210 active cases of COVID-19 among Beaufort County residents. Eight of those individuals were hospitalized. To date, 7,778 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in Beaufort County, as well as 332 hospitalizations and 135 COVID-19-related deaths.

Approximately 52% of Beaufort County’s total population is completely vaccinated against COVID-19, as is almost 63% of the adult population, 25% of the age group 12-17 and 5% of the age group 5-11.