NC’s flu death total rises to 106

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The number of flu-related deaths in North Carolina increased by two last week, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said today.

The deaths raise the state’s total to 106 victims. One individual was in the 65-and-older group and the other in the 25-to-49 age group.

The flu season typically runs from Oct. 1 to March 31, although it can vary depending on how virulent the most common strain happens to be.

The previous high in recent years was 91 in 2009-10, which is the flu season during which the H1N1 strain, or swine flu, was prevalent.

When counting H1N1 deaths that occurred in the summer before the 2009-10 flu season began, the death total from April 2009 to May 2010 was 107.

“There is no comparable flu death data available prior to 2009, which is when adult flu deaths became reportable,” according to DHHS spokesman Kevin Howell.

As has been the standard practice, DHHS officials did not disclose the counties in which the victims lived. However, some county health officials have been informing the public when a flu-related death occurs.

No county health officials from the Triad and Northwest North Carolina immediately reported today that they had a victim from last week.

Forsyth County health officials have reported four victims this season, all between the ages of 46 and 76.

There also have been eight reported flu-related deaths in Guilford County, five in Randolph County and one each in Alamance, Rockingham and Wilkes counties for a total of at least 20 in the 14-county region.

Altogether, statewide for the current flu season, there have been 31 victims ages 65 or older; 33 who were 50 to 64; 36 victims ages 25 to 49; three ages 5 to 17; and three under age 5.

State health officials say most of the victims have had some kind of health condition that made them more vulnerable to the flu, which is typical in flu-related deaths.

Those conditions can include heart disease, asthma or a respiratory illness, diabetes, immune-system problems, obesity and pregnancy.