Flu epidemic in South Carolina

Across the country, an epidemic of the influenza virus has resulted in several flu-related deaths. In South Carolina, several deaths are reported each week, and hospitalizations for the influenza virus are even higher.

What is the flu?

  • The flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus that invades host cells, reproduces itself using the cell’s resources, then flees to infect more cells.
  • Four types of the Influenza virus exist: A, B, C and D. Types A and B are the most common, and are the ones that cause seasonal epidemics every year.
  • The virus causes fevers, aches and nausea by transmitting itself from host to host through the air, traveling through the atmosphere for up to six feet from a cough.
  • The virus can sustain itself on a surface without a host for up to two days, infecting people long after it was first released into the open.
  • The infection runs its course within a time period of anywhere from two days to two weeks. Left untreated or in those with chronic illnesses, the influenza virus can cause outside complications that result in a hospital visit.

What impact is this epidemic having in South Carolina?

  • The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) monitored each week of this flu season, detailing information concerning hospitalization and deaths.
  • As of Feb 17, 2017 DHEC reports a total of 151 total deaths this season, over 100 of those senior citizens.
  • The number of reported deaths at the time of this report had decreased by 50%, indicating a decline in virulence of the virus.
  • This season has seen over 3,000 influenza hospitalizations in the state, mainly and unidentified strain of influenza type A.
  • In Charleston county, DHEC reports that greater than 75 people per 100,000 were positively identified to have the flu virus this season.

How to prevent getting the flu?

  • The number one recommendation of the CDC is to get the flu vaccine every year to protect yourself and those around you.
  • Avoid people who are already sick, especially roommates or significant others.
  • For those living with someone with the flu, taking a low dosage of Tamiflu prescribed by a doctor can help avoid the flu and lessen the side effects if it is still contracted.
  • Frequently wash your hands, especially before touching the face. Rest, plenty of clear fluids and exercise will keep the body and immune system healthy.
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Authored by: Hannah Addis

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