WakeMed sees 300% increase in flu cases as first child in NC dies from flu since 2020

WakeMed sees 300% increase in flu cases as first child in NC dies from flu since 2020

RALEIGH, NC — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has announced the first child flu-related death 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 disclosed. 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 start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Influenza and RSV cases at UNC Health

Last week at UNC In Chapel Hill hospitals, there were 210 confirmed cases of the flu – more than double the previous week. The total number of RSV cases also increased to 244, with about two-thirds of the cases in children.

“It puts pressure on our hospitals, especially the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in Chapel Hill,” says Dr. Alan Wolf of UNC Health. “It’s often full, even though our providers coordinate with other children’s hospitals around the state to find beds for critical patients.”

Influenza and RSV cases at Duke Health

At Duke Health, in the last full week of October, there were 155 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza by PCR, compared to only 31 cases the previous week.

“Same story another day. “Continuous capacity crisis and continued influx of RSV cases,” says Dr. Sameer Kamathmedical director for Duke Children’s Hospital.

Influenza and RSV cases on WakeMed

During the last full week of October, WakeMed reported 656 cases of influenza, as well as 17 patients hospitalized for influenza. That’s a 300% increase in the number of flu cases compared to the week. before.

During that same week, WakeMed reported 157 positive RSV tests and 14 RSV-related hospitalizations.

“We are busy, but for now we are able to manage a large number of patients and are preparing for a very challenging winter,” a WakeMed spokesperson said. “While we are indeed seeing unprecedented levels of RSV in our community, these are not the only patients who require hospital care. We care for patients with a range of illnesses and injuries. Anytime we see a huge increase in any disease — whether it’s RSV, flu or COVID, it leads to high volumes, longer wait times and staff working tirelessly to care for every patient.”

Increased risk of RSV this year

North Carolina has also seen increased levels of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) this year compared to the same period in previous years, according to data submitted to the department.

These trends are similar to what is seen nationally, according to the state.

Early treatment with an antiviral drug can prevent flu infections from becoming more serious. Antiviral treatment works best if started soon after symptoms appear.

Other precautions you can take to protect yourself from the spread of flu and other viruses include:

  • Stay home when you are sick until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours
  • Wash your hands often, preferably with soap and water
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then discard the tissue immediately
For more information about the flu and to find out where you can get a flu shot in your community, visit the NCDHHS website.

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