Health officials confirm 10 flu-related deaths in Buncombe; Mission sees overcrowding

Image: MGN

Buncombe County Health and Human Services (BCHHS) confirmed Friday that it has had 10 confirmed flu-associated deaths this season.

Seven were 65 years of age or older. Three were in 50-64 years of age.

Five were not immunized against flu, and seven had underlying medical conditions.

Flu activity in NC remained widespread for the week ending February 3, 2018.

BCHHS says Mission Health continues to see high levels of activity due to simultaneous waves of influenza A and B. It says it expects several more weeks of high flu activity in NC and locally.

A Mission spokesperson said this flu season is the busiest they've seen in the emergency department in more than 10 years.

A hospital said people battling the flu can help ease the overcrowding by going other places for treatment if they're not experiencing a true emergency related to their flu symptoms.

"(If) you're not feeling short of breath, you're not consistently vomiting, there are other venues -- urgent care, your primary care physician," Brooks Stewart, a Mission emergency physician, said.

From October 2, 2017 through February 3, 2018, there were 140 flu-associated deaths in NC, including four children.

Influenza A(H3N2) viruses continue to predominate in NC and across the US at this time, the BCHHS said in a release.

H3N2-predominant flu seasons are associated with more severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths compared to H1N1- or B-predominant seasons, especially in persons aged 65+ and young children.

The BCHHS Immunization Clinic has sufficient flu vaccine supply for both children and adults, and is located on the ground floor at 53 S. French Broad Ave., and open M-F from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Additional guidance and weekly surveillance updates are available at

People can contact the BCHHS Communicable Disease staff at 828-250-5109 with questions or to report a communicable disease, including a flu-associated death.

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