The latest figures on the flu were published on February 23.
These numbers include the first child-related seasonal flu death. The child was between 5 and 17 years old. The remaining 97 influenza-related deaths reported this season were among those aged 25 years or older, with the highest number of deaths (64) occurring in patients 65 years of age and older.
In North Carolina, 391 influenza deaths were reported during the 2017-2018 influenza season – the highest number reported during the influenza season since adult influenza deaths became reportable in the state in 2009.
Of these 391 deaths, 290 were people aged 65 and over and seven were children under 18 years of age.
Dr. Talal Dahhan, a pulmonologist and ICU physician, said that, unfortunately, many patients who contract the flu become seriously ill and arrive at the hospital.
"We have had a significant number of referrals for critically ill patients requiring advanced mechanical ventilation and sometimes extracorporeal support or what we call ECMO," said Dr. Dahhan.
Stay up to date with the latest news with the ABC11 News app
The Department of Health defines the flu-related death as "death resulting from a clinically compatible disease whose influenza has been confirmed by a laboratory or rapid diagnostic test without a full recovery period between the sickness and death ".
Authorities are already reporting that influenza cases are higher than a year ago.
The CDC recommends influenza vaccination for all people 6 months of age and older.
"Vaccination, vaccination, vaccination is the most important," said Dr. Dahhan.
He said that a flu vaccine is still your best defense and that the vaccine available works very well against most strains.
"There are anti-viral medications to control the increase in viral load, they are available and they work better if we recognize the flu virus at an early stage to control the disease."
Copyright © 2019 WTVD-TV. All rights reserved.