The flu virus in South Carolina is being classified as "widespread" and on the rise by state health officials, with an increase in flu-like illnesses in at least four regions of the state.
In York County last week, 132 rapid flu tests were positive, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Robin Brown, district nurse for the Fort Mill schools, said about 60 students have confirmed cases of the flu and approximately 80 students were sent home with flu-like illnesses in the past two weeks.
"We are seeing numerous cases throughout the district," Brown said. "It's about the same as probably last year.
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"We just really haven't seen much flu at all until we come back from Christmas. But you do expect it in January and February."
The flu strain affecting students now is the B strain, also called the seasonal flu, Brown said, not H1N1 or "swine flu."
Students with the flu are typically out of school three to seven days, she said.
Statewide last week, 2,460 positive rapid tests were reported and 54 lab-confirmed hospitalizations were reported due to the flu, according to DHEC.
DHEC's weekly S.C. Flu Watch report lists 7,654 positive rapid flu tests from health care providers, 102 lab-confirmed cases, as well as 234 hospitalizations statewide since October 2010.
Getting a flu vaccination is key to preventing the flu, health officials say.
"Many people don't realize that the flu causes mild to severe respiratory illness and can be deadly," said Dr. Jerry Gibson, director of DHEC's Bureau of Disease Control. "We strongly encourage anyone six months or older to be vaccinated.
"Vaccination is especially important for the very young, the elderly and people with chronic health conditions that might put them at higher risk of serious illness. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your family.
"It is not too late to vaccinate."