The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that 12 individuals died in the week that ended March 3.
Anyone over 6 months of age should still get a flu shot, because there could be several weeks left in the season.
Has the flu season peaked? There have been more than 200 flu deaths in SC. Oklahoma has reported only one pediatric death and none under age four.
Of the positive flu tests reported by state health officials, 67 percent were influenza B. People who have already had type A flu can still contract type B. The antiviral prescription medication Tamiflu is recommended to treat and prevent the flu, but shortages of the antiviral prescription drug during this severe flu season have helped fuel counterfeit drug sales.
"Overall vaccine efficacy improves with the newer technologies if their quicker manufacturing times are combined with government-provided seed virus submissions from increased surveillance at the global level for mutations in the antigenic target of flu vaccines", said Gilbert Saint-Jean, Ph.D., healthcare analyst at GlobalData, in a company press release.More news: Ninth Circuit Turns Back DOJ's Request to Knock Out Climate Change Lawsuit
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Legitimate online pharmacies do exist and will fill prescriptions, including Tamiflu, though the new warning encourages consumers to buy prescription drugs from local pharmacies. "The FDA is warning consumers to be alert, and try and steer clear of fraudulent flu products, which may be found online or in retail stores".
The number of deaths due to the flu rose by five in the past week to bring the total number to 184 in what was already the state's deadliest flu season since the state Department of Health began tracking the deaths in 2000.
Nationally, the disease is "widespread" in 45 states and Puerto Rico.
The number of flu deaths has reached 228 for the season statewide.
Flus generally are more serious in the youngest and oldest and those with compromised immune systems, but the flu this year has sent more children than adults and seniors to emergency rooms for treatment. The latest stats show more than 43-hundred hospitalizations and 228 deaths in this record year.