COLUMBIA — Influenza remains at heightened levels in South Carolina, with five flu-related deaths and 228 hospitalizations in the most recent week of reporting.
Both of those statistics were up over the previous week, though some other measurements were slightly down, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
The number of positive rapid tests for flu was down from 3,997 the previous week to 3,710 the week ending Jan. 4. The percentage of patients at physicians offices with flu-like symptoms also dropped slightly, from 2.72 to 2.53.
But even with the slight drops, the current flu outbreak remains a serious concern. Since the season began in late September, there have been 17 flu-related deaths and 870 hospitalizations.
Lab tests indicate the vast majority of South Carolina cases are Influenza A (H1N1), which is covered in this years flu vaccine. It takes around two weeks for the vaccines defenses to begin working, and the flu season is likely to continue for many weeks. So its not too late to get value out of a flu shot.
State health officials say the best ways to battle a flu outbreak are to get vaccines, wash hands frequently and thoroughly, cough into the crook of your arm to avoid spreading the virus and stay home if you have flu symptoms. The most common symptoms, which often come on quickly, include body aches, high fever, cough, lethargy and runny nose.