Flu cases on the rise in South Carolina

Source: SCDHEC
Source: SCDHEC

. - Fever, muscle aches, headaches, cold chills… All signs you may have the flu.

According to the CDC -- as of early November, only about 2 out of 5 people in the United States reported having gotten this season's flu vaccine, yet flu vaccine offered substantial benefit last season by preventing an estimated 5 million flu illnesses and 71,000 flu hospitalizations.

Compared to previous years – around this time is typically when we begin seeing flu numbers increase, until last year. In 2016, the majority of flu cases did not show up until March.

Doctors say, over the past several weeks, there has been an increase of people coming down with the flu.

Dr. D. Todd Detar, a DO at Roper St. Francis Healthcare, says, "With the travel and the holidays – I think people are moving around the country and I think that moves the virus."

Doctors say flu season typically peaks in the months of January and February.

The latest data from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control shows there were 871 flu cases the week ending December 24th. Last year, in that same week, there were only 87 cases.

So far for the 2016-2017 season, which began in October 2016, South Carolina has seen 138 hospitalizations and three deaths.

Year-to-Year Flu Statistics (SCDHEC)

Year Total flu hospitalizations Total flu deaths
2012 - 2013  1,720 hospitalizations  46 deaths
2013 - 2014 1,941 hospitalizations 78 deaths
2014 - 2015 3,365 hospitalizations 156 deaths
2015 - 2016 1,880 hospitalizations 47 deaths
2016 - 2017 (so far) 138 hospitalizations 3 deaths

South Carolina is, overall, in the severe category when it comes to cold and flu symptoms reported.

Charleston, Dorchester, Colleton and Beaufort counties are listed under the moderate-to-severe category of symptoms reported by residents. Berkeley and Georgetown counties are listed in the moderate category. Williamsburg County is listed in the mild-to-moderate category.

Dr. Detar says it’s important to wash your hands and stay away from people who are already sick. Flu shots are said to be between 75 and 85 percent effective for the three strains we expect to see in the population this year. Dr. Detar says, however, the vaccine doesn’t keep you from getting the flu, it just keeps you from being really sick.

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