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Lowcountry doctors see an increase in flu-like virus, effects could be deadly

MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) -

If you've noticed a lot of empty seats around the office this week, you're not alone.

Dr. Bo Machado of urgent care center, HealthFirst, says the Lowcountry offices saw its second-highest number of patients, with a near five hundred Monday.

Over 80 percent of those patients complained of flu-like systems.  Machado says the strain is not influenza, but has identical symptoms, and require the same treatment.

"The most serious problem with this illness is that we're seeing a lot of post-viral pneumonia," he said.

A lung infection typically caused by bacteria or viruses, pneumonia can prove fatal if not treated early.  The air sacs of the lungs fill with pus and may become solid.  Dr. Machado says body aches are a major symptom of the infection.

"Rarely anywhere does anyone actually die of the flu," Machado said.  "What they die of is post-influenza pneumonia."

Doctors say there's still a lot you can do to protect your health against these illnesses.  They say patients complaining of this flu-like virus had not received the vaccine.  Doctors say other preventative measures include washing your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer liberally.

"What you're doing is you're stopping those germs as soon as they get on your hands, they never get to your face, and you never get the flu."

The flu-like virus has not been named.  Doctors believe nearly 40 percent of the reported cases may still be classic influenza, but tests are providing false negatives.

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