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Originally published: 2014-01-13 15:13:51
Last modified: 2014-01-13 15:14:37

Our View: Flu bug's biting

It's the 23rd day of winter and the bugs are already biting.

The flu bug to be more specific.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that the seasonal flu outbreak has resulted in 21 deaths in North Carolina, of which 19 have been young and middle-aged adults, most of whom had underlying medical conditions. Only two deaths have been reported in persons older than 65.

For the comparable period last year, the state reported 35 flu-related deaths.

In all, 59 people died from the flu in the 2012-2013 flu season in North Carolina.

Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. in January or February, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease.

In addition, individuals can take everyday preventive steps such as staying away from sick people and washing their hands to reduce the spread of germs.

If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading influenza to others, according to health officials.

The CDC also recommends that people get vaccinated against the flu as long as flu viruses are circulating. However, it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that help provide protection against the flu.

Currently, the CDC reports that flu activity is widespread in North Carolina.

So, it's extremely important at this time to take preventive precautions if you already haven't.

A flu vaccination is important, but more so is to practice common sense, especially in the public and private workspaces. The key is frequent handwashing to keep from coming in contact with or spreading germs.