NC sees dramatic drop in flu & other respiratory illnesses

Flu Season AP
Flu Season AP(Associated Press)
Published: Feb. 5, 2021 at 7:46 PM EST
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) -The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is attributing a dramatic reduction in the spread of the flu and other respiratory illnesses across the state to preventative measures to combat COVID-19.

Compared to past years, North Carolina has seen very low levels of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) this year, according to data reported to the department by seven of the state’s largest healthcare systems. Similar trends are being seen nationally and globally.

Only four deaths from flu have been reported to NCDHHS so far this season, compared to 186 deaths last season and more than 200 deaths during the 2018-19 season. The data show these low levels of flu and RSV are occurring despite similar or higher levels of testing for both illnesses.

Additionally, NC Medicaid has seen a 98.2% reduction in expense claims for Tamiflu, a drug used to treat the flu.

“Altogether, this data tells us the preventative measures we’re taking are working,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “Not only are the 3Ws having a big impact on the spread of flu and other respiratory viruses, this data shows us that the spread of COVID-19 would likely be much higher if we weren’t taking these measures.”

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