North Carolina health officials concerned about spike in flu-related deaths

Six were linked to H3N2, two were from unsubtyped influenza A viruses, and one was from influenza B. The CDC started tracking pediatric flu deaths in the 2004-05 season, and totals have ranged from a low of 37 to a high of 171.

The eight new deaths were reported between February 5 and February 11, bringing the total to 32 deaths for the season, which began officially on October 2 previous year, according to the North Carolina Division of Public Health.

"Unfortunately, this flu season is far from over", said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, Idaho's influenza surveillance coordinator, in the release.

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The flu vaccine offers the best way to protect yourself against the flu.

Four different flu viruses are circulating in the state, but the most prevalent in lab testing is the A (H3) strain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that of all influenza A (H3) viruses evaluated from across the country, nearly 97% matched the influenza A (H3) strain found in this year's vaccines. A shift toward more influenza B viruses is common for the latter part of the flu season. First, avoid close contact with sick people and stay at home if you are sick.

There are an estimated 36,000 influenza-related deaths in the United States year year, along with more than 200,000 hospitalizations, according to health officials.

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In addition to getting vaccinated there are a number of other steps you can take to help prevent getting or spreading the flu. Complications include, but are not limited to, secondary bacterial infections, serious pneumonia, and even death. Young children, older people, and those with health conditions are most at risk.

You can find more information about how to battle the flu here.

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