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Number of flu deaths climbs in South Carolina, DHEC reports

January 16, 2019

Earlier this week the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported three people in South Carolina had died from the flu recently, bringing the state’s death toll up to 14 for the 2018-2019 season.

Flu season generally lasts until May. According to DHEC, the virus is beginning to affect large numbers of people in South Carolina and many other states, though the current flu season is predicted to be milder than last year’s.

“We’re seeing an increase in the number of people with influenza in the area in general,” said Infectious Disease Specialist Gerald Gordon at Aiken Regional Medical Centers.

Gordon said the majority of those people have not had flu shots.

Prevention is a key step in neutralizing the virus. However, this can be difficult due to the fact people who contract the flu can spread it before they start displaying symptoms.

Gordon said some of those symptoms, like many viral illnesses, can include sore throat, headache, muscle fatigue or shortness of breath. People who are sick with the flu can have serious fevers, while others don’t experience any change in temperature. Anyone who begins to experience these symptoms should seek treatment immediately, before the illness can progress.

People who have been diagnosed with the flu should take precautions to not spread the virus further, if they can.

“Stay home,” Gordon advised. “Don’t go shopping, don’t go to crowded places.”

Gordon recommends washing hands frequently. He said alcohol-based disinfectants can help kill the flu virus.

People who do start experiencing flu-like symptoms should not wait to seek treatment. Gordon said medications like Tamaflu and Xofluza can help people recover “fairly early” from the flu and will reduce the severity and duration of symptoms, but these medications will only work a day or two after a patient becomes sick. If taken later, they won’t be as effective.

“It’s not too late to get a flu shot,” Gordon said.

For people over age 65, there is a high-potency shot that can be requested, while people under 65 generally receive a low-potency shot.

Flu shots can be obtained at almost any doctor’s office or pharmacy.

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