Local

Flu wreaking havoc locally, statewide. Here are ways to protect yourself and others

Since the start of flu season, DHEC reports more than 11,000 cases have been diagnosed statewide. Approximately 830 of those resulted in hospitalization.
Since the start of flu season, DHEC reports more than 11,000 cases have been diagnosed statewide. Approximately 830 of those resulted in hospitalization. File photo

With the flu “widespread” in South Carolina, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is asking all to get vaccinated.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms may include a sudden onset of fever, cough, headache or muscle aches, tiredness, sore throat and nasal congestion.

“On the outside, it differs from a cold because of the severity of its symptoms — it leads to high fevers, body aches and respiratory symptoms,” according to a prepared statement by Grand Strand Health. “Something else that makes the flu really dangerous is while the immune system is busy fighting it off, other issues can sneak in.”

Since the start of flu season, DHEC reports more than 11,000 cases have been diagnosed statewide. Approximately 830 of those resulted in hospitalization.

People aged 65 and older accounted for nearly 79 percent of those cases, with 15 dying as a result of the flu.

In Horry County, the state’s public health organization estimates there have been 287 reported cases of the flu this season. That number ranks sixth among the Palmetto State’s 46 counties, though lagging well behind other largely-populated areas.

Greenville County is dealing with a flu outbreak as 948 documented cases have been reported to DHEC. Richland and Spartanburg counties rank second and third, with 678 and 344 cases, respectively.

Approximately 61 cases of the flu have been documented in Georgetown County.

Among those believed to have the highest risk of acquiring the flu include young children, pregnant women and those aged 65 and older. Also lumped into that category are those with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart or lung disease.

Though not ‘a 100 percent deterrent’ against the illness, the best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated, according to DHEC and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“Getting vaccinated annually is the No. 1 way to combat this contagious disease that can lead to hospitalization — and even death,” a prepared statement read.

“DHEC and the CDC recommend that everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine, which can reduce flu illnesses, doctor’s visits and missed work and school due to the flu,” according to a prepared statement by the health agencies. “Getting vaccinated is the No. 1 way to combat this contagious disease that can lead to hospitalization — and even death.”

Those seeking flu shots can do so by setting up an appointment at the Myrtle Beach Health Department or the Horry County Health Department by calling 1-800-868-0404.

Flu vaccines are also being offered at doctor’s offices, clinics and pharmacies.

There are other ways in which those seeking to avoid the flu can be proactive. Among them include:

▪  Avoiding contact with sick people;

▪  If sick, limit contact with others;

▪  If experiencing flu symptoms, stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, with the exception of getting medical care or other necessities;

▪  Cover your nose and mouse with a tissue when coughing or sneezing;

▪  Wash your hands often with soap and water;

▪  Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth;

▪  Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs such as the flu.

Joe L. Hughes II: 843-444-1702, @JoeLHughesII

  Comments