Flu deaths are on the rise in North Carolina, and the illness is hitting young and middle-aged adults hardest.
State health officials say 27 people have died from the flu this season, including 13 people age 25 to 49, nine people age 50 to 64, and five people age 65 or older.
On Monday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported the first child death from the flu. The child lived in the eastern region of the state and was too young to receive the flu vaccine.
“Typically you find flu deaths in older adults, but anyone can be affected by the flu,” said Michelle Etheridge, public information officer for the Edgecombe County Health Department.
The predominant strain of the flu this season, H1N1, is “notorious” for attacking children and younger adults more than older people, said Dr. John Surles, chief of emergency services at Vidant Edgecombe Hospital.
“It’s sort of a novel strain, meaning it’s not like ones we’ve seen in years past, so younger people don’t really have immunity to it,” said Tarboro physician Dr. Thomas Gennosa.
He said his office has seen three or four patients per day for the past week that ended up testing positive for the flu or who had “consistent symptoms” of the flu, and the majority have been young adults between the ages of 20 and 50.
For the complete story, see today's print edition of The Daily Southerner.