3 North Carolinians have died of the flu - WNCN: News, Weather

3 North Carolinians have died of the flu

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DHHS says the flu vaccination is the most effective treatment against the flu. DHHS says the flu vaccination is the most effective treatment against the flu.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday that three people have died as a result of the flu.

DHHS said the three adult patients were from Eastern North Carolina, the Triad region and the Charlotte area. The department did not specify the towns or cities where the patients resided.

"We extend our deepest sympathy to all of the families on their loss," said Acting State Health Director Robin Gary Cummings. "We hope that these tragic cases will help alert other people to the risks associated with contracting flu."

Dr. Shane Hemphill of Rex Primary Care of Cary said he "was surprised" to see that several people had died of the flu so early in the season in the state.

Hemphill said a good portion of his practice involves older or more mature patients, many of whom are considered at risk for complications from influenza.

He said only about 20 percent of his patients come in asking for a flu shot.

Hemphill said he has to remind the other 80 percent they need to get the shot.

He also said if you didn't get vaccinated before you come down with the flu, antiviral drugs "can be pretty effective if they are given to patients quickly enough."

Those antivirals include the brand name Tamiflu.

Although every flu season is different, Hemphill said he hasn't seen any cases of the flu among the patients in his practice.

DHHS said it has been tracking the flu and found a lot of cases in Mississippi and Texas, but has yet to see any large scale outbreaks in this state.

Although they believe its coming and will probably peak in January or February.

The patients all died during the past two weeks after testing positive for Influenza A.

Cases of flu in the state have been relatively low so far this season, DHHS reported.

The flu is particularly dangerous or high risk groups including infants under 2, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or immune system problems.

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