Flu (WEB)

The death total from the 2017-18 flu season has climbed to 42 statewide, up 16 from last week, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday.

The total includes six people who died in previous weeks and were later determined to have had the flu.

No flu-related deaths have been reported in the Triad and Northwest North Carolina.

Twelve of the 16 new flu-related deaths were individuals ages 65 and older, while the other four were ages 50 to 64.

For the season, there have been 25 elderly deaths, 12 from ages 50 to 64, three from ages 25 to 49 and two from ages 5 to 17.

By comparison, the 2016-17 season had 219 confirmed deaths related to the flu. That represented the highest level of flu-related deaths since DHHS began providing victim totals in 2008.

Flu-related child visitor restrictions went into effect Jan. 12 at Triad hospitals. They are expected to remain in place through the end of the flu season, which typically is March 31.

Hospitals applying the restrictions on visitors ages 12 and under include Novant Health Inc. and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Cone Health and all of their affiliates. Also included are High Point Regional Health System, which is in the process of being acquired by Wake Forest Baptist, and affiliates of Carolinas Healthcare System.

Similar restrictions were in place in 2017 from late February to mid-April.

Children ages 12 and under are not allowed to visit patients “except for extenuating family circumstances.” In those cases, parents or guardians are asked to get permission from the patient’s nurse to allow children to visit.

Children are allowed to enter the hospitals to receive treatment.

People who are ill with a fever, cough, cold or stomach virus are asked not to visit patients at hospitals.

Nationally, flu season has arrived stronger than projected, according to federal health officials. The predominant strain picked up in lab tests so far is a strain of influenza A known as H3N2.

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rcraver@wsjournal.com 36-727-7376 @rcraverWSJ

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