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Buncombe County Confirms First Flu-Related Death


Buncombe County Health and Human Services has confirmed the first flu-related death in the county during the 2019-2020 flu season.  According to a BCHHS press release, the death occurred in an adult under age 65.   No further details about the case have been released. According to the North Carolina Division of Public Health, as of December 28, 2019, there have been 10 flu-related deaths in North Carolina residents. 

“Flu can be devastating to individuals and families. While it is typically more serious for those older than 65 years of age, it can have serious health consequences even for young, healthy people. The flu can also be very serious for people with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, and children under the age of five. Prevention through immunization, good health habits and quick action are key to avoid getting and spreading the flu in our community,” says BCHHS Medical Director, Dr. Jennifer Mullendore. She continues, “It is not too late to get a flu vaccine and we encourage everyone to get immunized as soon as they are able.”

Health officials say anyone with symptoms of flu should stay home from school, work or other group activities to prevent spreading the illness to others. The symptoms of flu usually start suddenly and most commonly include fever, chills, muscle or body aches, feeling very tired and weak, cough, and headache. Once infected with the flu, you can spread it to others as soon as 1 day before you get sick through 7 days after you get sick.

More tips from BCHHS:

If you become ill with symptoms of the flu, contact your primary care provider or visit an urgent care clinic. Rapid treatment (within 48 hours of the start of flu symptoms) with antiviral drugs can provide a second line of defense against the flu.

People aged 65 or older, those with certain chronic medical conditions (like asthma, diabetes or heart disease), pregnant women, and children under age 5 years are at high risk of developing serious flu-related illnesses if they get sick, so it is important that their health care provider is informed of their illness right away.

Please avoid the emergency department unless you have signs and symptoms of severe illness (see below), as it can expose you to other illnesses and exposes others to your illness.

Know the signs and symptoms of severe flu-related illness:

In infants and children:

·       Fast breathing or trouble breathing

·       Bluish skin color

·       Not waking up or not interacting

·       Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held

·       Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal

·       Has no tears when crying

In adults:

·       Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

·       Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen

·       Sudden dizziness

·       Confusion

·       Severe or persistent vomiting