First death of 2018 flu sea­son re­ported in SC af­ter hun­dreds died last year

The Herald (Rock Hill) - - Local & State - BY NOAH FEIT nfeit@thes­

Close to 300 peo­ple died in South Carolina dur­ing the last flu sea­son.

The first flu-re­lated fatality of the 2018 sea­son was re­ported by the S.C. Depart­ment of Health and En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­trol (DHEC) Thurs­day.

“Sadly, an in­di­vid­ual from the Low­coun­try re­gion has died from com­pli­ca­tions due to the flu,” DHEC direc­tor of pub­lic health Dr. Lil­ian Peake said in a news re­lease. “This is our first lab-con­firmed, in­fluenza-as­so­ci­ated death of the sea­son. Un­for­tu­nately, we see many deaths, hos­pi­tal­iza­tions and other se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions of flu each year in South Carolina.”

Dur­ing last flu sea­son, there were 135,842 re­ported cases of in­fluenza in S.C., ac­cord­ing to DHEC. Of that num­ber, 4,551 peo­ple were hos­pi­tal­ized and 292 peo­ple died. That was a

sig­nif­i­cant rise in deaths over the 177 peo­ple who died the pre­vi­ous flu sea­son.

Symp­toms of the flu can in­clude a sud­den on­set of fever, dry cough, headache, mus­cle aches, tired­ness, sore throat and nasal con­ges­tion or stuffi­ness, ac­cord­ing to DHEC.

Over­all, more than 80,000 peo­ple died from the flu dur­ing the past sea­son, McClatchy re­ported. The ma­jor­ity of those who died were over age 65, ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates from the U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol, which re­ported the ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans do not get the flu shot ev­ery year.

“Last flu sea­son was one of the worst in re­cent years and high­lights the im­por­tance of get­ting your flu vac­cine,” DHEC Im­mu­niza­tion Med­i­cal Con­sul­tant Dr. Tracy Foo said in a news re­lease.

Those most vul­ner­a­ble to “se­ri­ous flu com­pli­ca­tions in­clude young chil­dren, preg­nant women, peo­ple 65 years and older and those with chronic health con­di­tions like asthma, di­a­betes, heart or lung dis­ease,” ac­cord­ing to Peake. She said that “even healthy peo­ple can have se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions from the flu.”

The best way to pre­vent the flu is by get­ting the flu vac­cine, ac­cord­ing to DHEC.

In spite of that rec­om­men­da­tion, more than 61 per­cent of South Carolina res­i­dents did not get a flu shot last sea­son, ac­cord­ing to a study by In­sur­ance Quotes.

”Flu ac­tiv­ity is un­pre­dictable each year, so we need to pre­pare for sev­eral


months of the virus cir­cu­lat­ing in our com­mu­ni­ties,” Peake said in a news re­lease. “The most com­mon strains of the flu virus that cir­cu­late can change ev­ery year, so it’s im­por­tant to get the cur­rent flu vac­cine each year for the best pro­tec­tion. There­fore, we strongly en­cour­age peo­ple to get vac­ci­nated now to pre­vent the flu and its po­ten­tially se­ri­ous con­se­quences. The vac­cine takes about two weeks to build up your body’s pro­tec­tion against the virus.”

Adults 50 and older are among the groups “at in­creased risk of com­pli­ca­tions from flu,” DHEC re­ported. Oth­ers at risk in­clude young chil­dren and preg­nant women among oth­ers.

In ad­di­tion to a flu shot, DHEC en­cour­ages S.C. res­i­dents to do the fol­low­ing to pre­vent spread­ing the ill­ness:

While sick, limit con­tact with oth­ers as much as pos­si­ble to keep from in­fect­ing them.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tis­sue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tis­sue in the trash af­ter you use it. If a tis­sue is not avail­able, use the crook of your el­bow.

Wash your hands of­ten with soap and wa­ter. If soap and wa­ter are not avail­able, use an al­co­hol­based hand rub.

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