Harsh NC flu season may be winding down

State health officials recorded no deaths related to the flu in North Carolina last week, the first time that has happened in 17 weeks.

It’s another sign that a particular harsh flu season is coming to an end. Since early October, 207 people have died of complications from the flu in the state, the most since the state began tracking flu deaths in 2009.

Thursday’s weekly update from the state Department of Health and Human Services also indicates that the portion of patients at clinics and hospitals with flu-like illnesses continued to decline last week. By that measure, the season peaked about the first of the year.

The season has been particularly bad in part because this year’s most prevalent H3N2 strain of the flu virus evolved, making the vaccine less effective than expected.

The H3N2 virus is especially hard on the elderly. Of those who have died of flu in North Carolina this season, 83 percent were age 65 or older.