COLUMBIA, S.C. – Influenza, or “the flu,” has officially arrived in South Carolina, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.
“Our agency’s Bureau of Laboratories has confirmed five cases of flu in the Midlands area of the state,” said Linda Bell, M.D. and state epidemiologist. “This confirmation reinforces the need for vaccination and the good sense steps to prevent the spread of the flu virus.
“Vaccination remains the single best way to prevent the spread of flu,” Dr. Bell said. “We recommend the flu vaccine for everyone six months of age or older. Flu season typically peaks in February in South Carolina. But you should get vaccinated as soon as possible to give your body time to strengthen its natural resistance to the virus before you are exposed. We strongly recommend flu vaccine for anyone who wants to reduce their risk from flu and its complications.”
Influenza is a naturally occurring viral disease that causes respiratory infections. Symptoms may include:
- A sudden onset of fever
- Dry cough
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion or stuffiness
“You can help reduce the chance of spreading flu and other viruses by covering your cough with a tissue or your sleeve, washing your hands often and staying home if you get sick,” Dr. Bell said. “Another good idea is to live healthy – eat properly and get plenty of exercise and rest.”
DHEC will focus its resources on providing flu shots to people who are uninsured, under-insured, and those who cannot receive a flu vaccine anywhere else. There are many flu vaccine providers in local communities across South Carolina to serve people with health insurance and those who have the ability to pay for the vaccine. DHEC asks that individuals with Medicare, Medicaid or other type of health insurance coverage for the flu vaccine visit their health care provider or local pharmacy to get a flu shot.
To learn where and when influenza vaccine will be offered in your area, visit http://www.scdhec.gov/flu/clinic-options.htm. More information about influenza in South Carolina can be found at http://www.scdhec.gov/flu.