50 new flu deaths reported in the Carolinas, bringing total to over 350

50 new flu deaths reported in the Carolinas, bringing total to over 350

South Carolina (WBTV) - Health officials announced Thursday that 50 more people have died from the flu in the Carolinas since the 2017-18 season started in October.

Twenty-three more people have died from the flu in South Carolina and 27 more people have died from the flu in North Carolina.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control said Wednesday that the latest deaths bring the total in South Carolina to 151 deaths this season.

So far, 200 people have died from the flu in North Carolina this season. It was the sixth straight week in which more than 10 people have died from the virus.

DHEC says more than 17,000 people were hospitalized with the flu last week. That's down about 500 cases the previous week.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports medical experts say that those who have already caught the flu and fully recovered should get vaccinated if they didn't get their shot. That's because getting sick develops immunity to the strain that infected you, but not to other strains in circulation, said Dave Weber, a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at the UNC-Chapel Hill.

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Multiple flu infections in the same person are rare but not unheard of.

"It would be bad luck but it has happened - based on strains," said Michael Anthony "Tony" Moody, chief medical officer of Duke University's Human Vaccine Institute. "The strains tend not to circulate at the same time. You can catch them back to back to back like that."

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is urging people to protect themselves against the virus.

"We're in the middle of a nationwide flu epidemic and I'm asking North Carolinians to do their part to stay healthy and stop the flu from spreading," Cooper said in a statement.

The flu season usually runs through May.

Copyright 2018 WBTV. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.