RALEIGH, N.C. — Twelve people died from the flu between Feb. 25 and March 3, bringing the total number of flu deaths in the state to 276, according to data released by health officials on Thursday.

The numbers help health officials compare one flu season to another. The 2016-2017 flu season was considered very active, with 210 deaths reported by the end of May.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.

The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year.

Click here to read more details.