DHEC: South Carolina suffers season's first flu-related death

DHEC: South Carolina suffers season's first flu-related death

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced on Tuesday that it has been notified of the state's first flu-associated death of the season.

"Tragically, an individual from the Midlands region has become our first lab-confirmed, influenza-associated death of the season," said Linda Bell, M.D. and state epidemiologist. "We are in the beginning 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."

"Flu activity typically peaks in February in South Carolina, so we have to prepare for several months of the disease circulating in our communities," said Dr. Bell. "Therefore, we strongly encourage vaccination for all individuals six months and older to prevent the flu and its potentially serious consequences."

DHEC released the following information regarding the flu:

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.

In addition to receiving an annual flu vaccination, South Carolinians are encouraged to take the following preventive measures:

• 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," said Dr. Bell.

Information provided by DHEC.