The death toll in the state’s flu epidemic reached another record, a total of 164 this season, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday.
About 84 percent of the victims, or 137, are age 65 and older, the agency said. That includes 12 new confirmed deaths.
There have been 27 flu-related deaths confirmed in the 14 Triad and Northwest N.C. counties — nine in Forsyth County and 18 in Guilford. No new confirmed deaths were confirmed Thursday.
The record for flu-related deaths is narrowly defined, since DHHS didn't begin tracking weekly deaths until the 2008-09 flu season. By comparison, there were 107 deaths statewide during the 2013-14 season.
The agency said 16 victims were in the 50-64 age group, nine in the 25-49 age group and two in the 5-17 age group.
Six victims were reported for the period Feb. 1-7.
DHHS’ latest data also includes revised numbers for flu-related deaths in previous weeks: an additional two for the period of Jan. 18-24 and an additional four for the period of Jan. 25-31.
Marlon Hunter of Forsyth County and Merle Green of Guilford County are the only county health directors in the region to have confirmed a flu-related death to the Journal.
Some counties, such as Randolph and Stokes, have reported no deaths; in other cases, health officials have either declined to release figures for HIPAA patient confidentiality reasons, or not responded to requests for information.
Green said 12 women and six men have died in Guilford from the flu. All of the women were age 60 or older; five of the men were between the ages of 51 and 95 and one between the ages of 25-50.
Hunter said he did not have information on the gender of the Forsyth victims.
The typical flu season begins Oct. 1 and ends March 31.
DHHS officials and local infectious-disease health-care officials say they believe the current flu season reached its peak in mid-January. The Triad’ four major hospitals all lifted their flu-related visitor restrictions Feb. 5.