The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services today announced the state's first three adult deaths linked to infection with seasonal influenza.
The patients were from eastern North Carolina, the Triad region, and the Charlotte area, respectively.
Doug Allred, external communications manager with Cone Health, confirmed that one flu-related death occurred at a Cone Health facility in Guilford County within the past two weeks.
Allred also said Cone Health has treated three people for the flu so far this season.
All three patients were middle aged adults who were at increased risk for complications due to underlying medical conditions.
All passed away during the past two weeks after testing positive for Influenza A, one of the main types of flu responsible for seasonal flu epidemics each year.
"We extend our deepest sympathy to all of the families on their loss," said Acting State Health Director Robin Gary Cummings, M.D. "We hope that these tragic cases will help alert other people to the risks associated with contracting flu."
According to public health officials, cases of flu in our state have been relatively low so far this season, but are beginning to trend upward. Flu season typically peaks during January and February. Complications from flu can be particularly dangerous for high risk groups including infants under 2, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or immune system problems.
"Anyone in a high risk group who gets the flu should see a doctor right away so they can receive treatment with an antiviral drug," Cummings said. "Early treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between a mild illness and a very serious illness."