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Report: 20 new deaths in state from flu last week

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RALEIGH - WTVD is reporting new numbers from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released on Thursday show another 20 people died from the flu this season. This brings the total number of reported deaths from the flu this season to 110.

Last week, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said 17 new people died from the flu.

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North Carolina flu season officially started October 2, 2016. This is the fifth straight week that the death toll has reached double digits.

"Compared to last year, this is a more severe season," said Dr. Zack Moore, the acting state epidemiologist said. "Last year we did have a flu season, it was a little more mild. It was a different flu virus than what's going around now." To compare, last season there were 59 total reported flu deaths. But Moore said this 2016-17 season mimics the 2014-15 season, when North Carolina record 218 deaths. This was the highest number of flu-associated deaths reported since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. "It's the H3N2 virus and it's a type of Influenza A and that's um, when we have H3N2 seasons we tend to see more illness in people over 65 and we do sometimes see a little more in terms of severe illness and higher numbers of flu associated deaths," Moore said when asked about this season. He also said that for this flu season, we already seem to be hitting our peak in reported flu cases during the past few weeks, which is later than usual. He worries this means the death toll could rise. "The peak in flu deaths is not going to come for another week or two weeks so we are going to continue to see an increase unfortunately in the numbers of flu associated deaths," Moore said.

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