Doctors see February spike in flu cases; NC health officials report 13 new deaths

Don’t let your guard down-- the flu is still very active across the Carolinas.

S​​​​​​tate officials say 13 people have died from the flu in North Carolina in the past week. That brings the total number of people who have died to 68 this flu season.

That number may not reflect the total number across North Carolina because some cases go unreported or undiagnosed.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services also reported Thursday that three additional deaths in previous weeks have been attributed to the flu.

So far, 48 of the victims were ages 65 or older. Another 13 were in the 50-to-64 age group and seven were in the 25-to-49 age group.

For the same time period in the previous flu season, officials reported 212 deaths.

“If I diagnose you on a Sunday with the flu I am writing you a note for work or school for the next five days,” said Dr. Chris Branner. He knows it’s tempting but he says that’s the worst thing you can do not only for yourself but others who could catch the virus.

At a South Charlotte Atrium Health Urgent Care Dr. Branner’s team is seeing a spike in the number of patients with the flu.

“I have to advise the cheerleader or basketball player who wants to be with their team that if they have the flu and are in the huddle they are putting their teammates at risk,” said Dr. Branner.

January was a slower month for flu cases so Dr. Branner was prepared for February. Wipes, masks and lots of soap are on hand for the team inside the clinic.

“The flu spreads by droplets so watch out for folks coughing or sneezing,” he said.

If you’re trying to stay flu free be sure to wash your hands and do so for at least 15 to 20 seconds.

“Handwashing is very important. Just running your hands under the water doesn’t work so you want to scrub and burn off those germs,” Dr. Branner explained.

It’s not too late to get your flu shot if you haven’t already.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.