BY JOHN H. WALKER
Five more people died of flu in North Carolina in the week that ended Saturday, bringing the total to 13 during the current flu season, state public health officials say.
There is enough concern is certain areas of the state that on Monday Duke University Health Systems announced it was temporarily restricting the number of patients’ visitors because of the high volume of flu cases in the Triangle. On Tuesday, Northern Hospital of Surry County began restricting visitors as a result of the surge in flu cases.
There is also concern that as students return to classes following the Christmas break, the number of cases could rise sharply
Seven of the 13 victims have been ages 25 to 49, and five of them have been ages 50 to 64, according to data from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Only one was 65 or older.
Most of the victims are people especially vulnerable to H1N1, the dominant strain of the virus so far this season, Zack Moore, a medical epidemiologist with the N.C. Department of Public Health, said earlier this week.
Factors that put people at high risk of serious illness or death from flu include heart disease, diabetes, respiratory illnesses such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, immune system problems, obesity and pregnancy.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine each year.
The flu season began in early October.