Public Health Officials Announce First 2023-2024 Flu-Related Death in Buncombe County
Buncombe County Health and Human Services was notified December 11, 2023 of the first reported flu-associated death of a Buncombe County resident during the 2023–24 flu season. To protect the privacy of the family, no other information will be provided.
“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the first flu-related death in our Buncombe County community,” said Dr. Ellis Matheson, Buncombe County Public Health Director. “We don’t take the seasonal flu lightly as we see that it can be a very serious and even fatal illness, and we urge the community to take steps to protect against influenza and other respiratory illnesses that are circulating. Now is the time to get vaccinated if you haven’t already, especially before going into holiday celebrations with friends and family. Additional steps include washing your hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home if you are sick.”
The CDC recommends flu vaccination every year for everyone 6 months and older. In addition to being the best way to prevent infection with the flu, vaccination can also make illness milder for those who do get the flu. Certain groups are at higher risk for serious illness from flu, including children younger than 5, pregnant women, people over 65 and those with certain chronic medical conditions such as heart or lung disease. Flu vaccines are widely available in the community including private medical offices, pharmacies, health departments, and health centers. Find a location by entering your zip code in the flu shot locator page. Layer up your protection by washing your hands often, choosing less crowded spaces and events, and wearing a mask during times of higher respiratory illness circulation in addition to getting vaccinated. North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services provides information on seasonal flu levels on this webpage.
Anyone who thinks they have the flu should contact their doctor right away to see if they need treatment with a prescription antiviral drug. Early treatment with an antiviral drug can help prevent flu infections from becoming more serious. Individuals who feel ill should call ahead before going to a doctor’s office, urgent care, or other provider to avoid exposing others. COVID-19 and flu symptoms are similar, so consult with a doctor about getting tested for flu and/or COVID-19.
Flu symptoms include:
- Cough and/or sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Headaches and/or body aches
- Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea (most common in children)