Flu season officially began on October 1st, 2016. Last week, health officials linked three deaths to influenza. As of 2017, the number of victims rose to seven, announced the North Carolina Department of Health on Thursday, January 5th. The latest victims of the flu outbreak were individuals aged 65 and older. Up until now, five people who died from influenza were elderly individuals, 65 years old or above. The other two victims belonged to the 25-to-54 age group, respectively 55-to-64.
However, no deaths have been so far reported in the Northwest North Carolina or the Triad. Even though the flu outbreak represents an immediate threat to the safety of N.C. residents, some health officials abstain from reporting flu-related deaths, citing DHHS directive or patient privacy.
While anybody could get infected, no matter their age, health officials warn that children under the age of five and elderly people of 65 years of age or above are most susceptible to contracting the virus. Pregnant women, individuals suffering from heart disease, diabetes, or asthma, and people experiencing other medical conditions during the flu season are also included, say North Carolina health officials.
In order to prevent the disease from spreading further and claiming even more lives, the Cone Health and Radolph Hospital medical facilities have restricted visitors to check on their infected relatives, friends, or coworkers. Furthermore, the Cone Health restriction also extend to Annie Penn Hospital, Women’s Hospital, Alamance regional, and Wesley Long Hospital.
However, the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, as well as Forsyth Medical Center patients are still allowed to receive visitors. The bans generally apply to waiting areas and lobbies and aim to keep children or elderly people from contracting the virus. Nevertheless, patients in need for emergency care or immediate hospitalization are not affected by the measure.
Melissa Morgan, head of the infection prevention department at Cone Health says that people who are recovering in the hospital from surgeries have a weakened immune system which makes the patients more susceptible to the influenza virus. As a result, she urges people who have come in contact with the illness to refrain from visiting relatives in the hospital. The same measure was also implemented during the flu outbreak that swept through the Triad during the 2014-1025 season, as well. The ban was eventually lifted in mid-February 2015.
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