SOUTH CAROLINA (WCSC) - Thousands of people are being bitten by the flu bug in South Carolina. Figures just released by the State Department of Health and Environmental Control show South Carolina saw the highest weekly number of confirmed cases of influenza this week since flu season began in early October, 2015.
According to the state health department, 4,154 lab confirmed cases of the flu were reported so far this season.
Still, the numbers are far below the number of people suffering this time last flu season.
Since the 2015-2016 flu season began, there has been a small weekly increase in the number of confirmed flu cases, with the largest jump seen in mid-February, and the numbers continued to climb.
Physician Assistant and Operator of the Health First Rapid Care in West Ashley, Henry Spradlin has one explanation for the recent increase.
"People were outside more because of the warmer winter," Spradlin said. "We're seeing people inside because of schools still in, church events, social events, that's what's passing the flu around."
Friday about eight people in the Health First office tested positive for the flu. Spradlin says that's low compared to last year.
"Last year we would probably be seeing 20 or 30 [positive flu tests] a day, quite significant change this year," he said.
So far this flu season, Charleston County has the highest number of lab confirmed cases in the state, with 1,664.
Richland County follows with 1,210, and Florence County reports 1,194 positive flu cases. Well below those figures are Dorchester County with 275, and Berkeley County with 182 confirmed cases of the flu.
This year there have been 18 flu-related deaths in South Carolina, five of them in the Lowcountry.
"If you get the flu you begin to get better and then get sick again, get in to see your doctor immediately," Spradlin said. "That's something called post influenza syndrome, you develop a pneumonia and become quite ill."
He says that's what causes most of the flu related deaths.