The state Department of Health and Human Services is reporting that the flu is now widespread with a high intensity across North Carolina.
Flu-related hospitalizations are up, but there could still be a couple months left in flu season, according to acting State Epidemiologist Zack Moore, who urged people to cover their coughs, wash their hands, and get immunized.
“When they compare people who got the flu vaccine to people who did not get the flu vaccine, the ones who didn't get the flu vaccine are about twice as likely to get flu,” Moore said.
Moore said senior citizens are especially vulnerable to this season's most prevalent viral strain.
“When we get that kind of virus, we know we're going to see a lot of illness in older people and a lot of outbreaks in elder care facilities and nursing homes,” he said.
State officials say 32 flu-related deaths were reported as of last week. But Moore said there's always a lag time in reported deaths, and he expects the number to be much higher by the end of flu season.
Anyone who believes they have the flu can talk to their doctor about antiviral medicines, which can alleviate symptoms and shorten the time they're sick.