RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced the first child to die from the flu statewide for the 2022-2023 flu season.
This is the first child to die from flu-related complications in the state since 2020.
To protect the family’s privacy, the child’s hometown, county, age and gender are not being released. However, the child lived in eastern NC.
North Carolina has seen a rapid early rise in flu cases in recent weeks after two years of relatively low flu activity since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Five adult flu-associated deaths have already been reported in North Carolina during the current flu season, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one pediatric flu death had been reported from other states as of Nov. 2, 2022.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to this child’s family on this heartbreaking and tragic loss,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore.
The CDC recommends flu vaccination every year for everyone 6 months and older. In addition to being the best way to prevent infection with the flu, vaccination can also make illness milder for those who do get the flu.
“Flu vaccination is the most effective protection against flu,” Dr. Moore said. “There is still time to protect yourself and your loved ones this flu season. If you haven’t gotten your flu vaccine yet, now is the time.”
Over half of the children who die from flu have no known medical condition that would put them at higher risk; but studies have shown that vaccines reduce the risk of flu-associated deaths by half in children with high-risk medical conditions and by two-thirds in healthy children.
Increase in RSV risk this year
North Carolina has also seen increased levels of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) this year compared to the same time in recent previous years, according to data reported to the department.
These trends are similar to what is being seen nationally, according to the state.
Early treatment with an antiviral drug can help prevent flu infections from becoming more serious. Antiviral treatment works best if started soon after symptoms begin.
Other precautions you can take to protect against the spread of flu and other viruses include:
- Staying home when you are sick until you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours
- Washing your hands frequently, preferably with soap and water
- Covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then discarding the tissue promptly