North Carolina is in the throes of a widespread, high-intensity flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
This season's prominent strain is Influenza A H3N2, according to Acting State Epidemiologist Zach Moore, adding that elderly people, children, pregnant women, and people with respiratory conditions are especially vulnerable.
“Anybody in those groups who thinks they might have the flu, it's very important to contact your doctor as soon as possible,” Moore said. “Because there are drugs that can treat the flu, and they can make the difference between a more typical flu and potentially a hospitalization or even a death.”
At least seven people have died from flu complications in the state. And officials at Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton say flu complications are contributing to the hospital being filled to capacity.
The Center’s Chief Operations Officer Jason Cox says all 256 staffed beds are filled.
“Every winter I think every hospital struggles with this,” said Cox. “But this year seems to be a little more significant in that the patients seeking care, we are experiencing abnormal volumes, even adjusted for the season.”
Cox and Moore are urging people to seek outpatient care as soon as flu symptoms arise to prevent needing hospitalization.