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S.C. Suffers Season’s first Flu-Related Death

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has been notified of the state’s first flu-associated death of the season, the agency announced.

“Tragically, a woman from Dorchester County has become our first lab-confirmed, influenza-associated death of the season,” said Linda Bell, M.D. and state epidemiologist. “We are in the early stages of our state’s flu season. It is important to get vaccinated now. The vaccine takes about two weeks to build up your body’s protection against the virus, and vaccination is – by far – the best way to prevent the spread of the flu.

“Our most recent efforts to track the spread of influenza in the state show that influenza has been active early in the season, although activity is localized,” Dr. Bell said. “Flu activity typically peaks in February in South Carolina, so we have to prepare for several months of the disease circulating in our communities. Therefore, we strongly encourage vaccination for all persons six months and older to prevent the flu and its potentially serious consequences.”

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. The flu can cause mild to severe illness and can be deadly – especially to vulnerable people, including the very young, the elderly and those with certain chronic health conditions. Symptoms can include a sudden onset of fever, dry cough, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, sore throat, and nasal congestion or stuffiness.

Dr. Bell added that other flu prevention guidelines include:

  • Staying away from people who are sick.
  • Staying home from work, school and errands if you are sick. By doing so, you will help keep others from getting sick, too.
  • Covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue if one is handy. Throw it away immediately after use. Otherwise, use the crook of your elbow.
  • Washing your hands often and thoroughly.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when someone touches something that is covered with germs and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.

“Other good habits include getting plenty of exercise and sleep, managing your stress, drinking water and eating good food to help you stay healthy in the winter and all year,” she said.

Find additional information about preventing the flu at www.scdhec.gov/flu.