State health officials have confirmed nine flu-related deaths in the state this season.

CONCORD — State health officials have confirmed the second flu-related death in the Granite State this season.

Influenza-related deaths in New Hampshire are tracked by monitoring electronic death certificate filings, which are not always immediate, so it is unclear when the person died. The bureau described the victims as adults from Rockingham County and Strafford County in its most recent weekly report, which includes data as of Jan. 11.

Influenza, commonly referred to as ‘flu,’ is a viral infection spread by respiratory droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Flu activity is considered widespread in New Hampshire and 48 other states, health officials said.

In all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates in its U.S. influenza report for the week ending Jan. 11 there have been at least 13 million flu illnesses, 120,000 hospitalizations, and 6,600 deaths from the flu this season.

“Flu vaccine effectiveness estimates are not available yet this season, but vaccination is always the best way to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications,” the CDC said in the report.

The percentage of deaths from pneumonia and influenza increased from 6% to 6.9% for the week, but “remains below the epidemic threshold,” CDC said. The overall hospitalization rate was 19.9 per 100,000 population — similar to recent previous influenza seasons at this time of year.

Seven flu-associated pediatric deaths have been reported to the CDC since late December. So far this season, 39 children in the U.S. have died from the flu, according to the CDC, the highest number of pediatric flu deaths reported at this point in the flu season since 2003, when the organization started tracking child flu deaths.

No pediatric flu-related deaths have been reported in New Hampshire, state health officials said.

State health officials maintain the influenza vaccine is still the best line of defense against getting the flu.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020