Nearly 300 new York County flu cases reported last week as SC death toll climbs

In the past week, the number of reported flu-related deaths in South Carolina has continued to rise. People are urged to take precautions.
In the past week, the number of reported flu-related deaths in South Carolina has continued to rise. People are urged to take precautions.

York County had 293 reported cases of the flu last week, in a season that has seen 106 influenza-associated deaths reported in the state.

In the past week, the number of reported flu-related deaths in South Carolina has continued to rise, as 22 more deaths have been reported by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

DHEC said South Carolina reported widespread activity this week. This is the eighth week of widespread activity.

Lancaster County had 322 reported cases last week, and 93 cases reported in Chester County, according to DHEC.

Schools report a suspected outbreak of the flu to families when they see 10 percent or more of the total student enrollment absent on a given day, said Mychal Frost, spokesperson for Rock Hill schools. The cause of the absences is not always known. However, the absences are not linked to vacations, sporting events, inclement weather or other expected absences.

“This does not mean all absences are flu or flu-like-symptom related,” Frost wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.

Frost said the district, since Feb. 1, has notified families at Ebinport Elementary School when 10 percent of its enrollment was absent.

Schools also report a potential outbreak when there is 20 percent or more students absent or sent home from a particular area, such as the classroom, a sports team or a bus route, with flu-like symptoms, Frost said. For example, if a class of 20 students had four students absent or sent home with a flu-like illness, that would trigger a report to families.

Since Feb. 1, the district has notified families at five schools that saw 20 percent absence at the classroom level -- Old Pointe Elementary, Mt. Holly Elementary, Northside Elementary, Independence Elementary and Belleview Elementary, Frost said.

No notifications have been made at any of the district’s secondary schools based on the those parameters, he said.

Clover and Fort Mill schools have not seen significant absences, according to district officials.

The York school district saw an increase in absences recently in students and staff, but they have not all been related to the flu, said Tim Cooper, the district spokesperson.

On Feb. 2, the Lancaster County school district had 483 students, or 4.8 percent of the student population, absent, but the causes are unknown, said David Knight, the district spokesperson. He said the district has not had enough simultaneous absences at any school to report a potential outbreak.

Local school districts are sharing flu prevention information on social media and with parents.

“We also have been working with our custodial staff to provide extra cleaning in our schools to aid in stopping the spread,” said Joe Burke, spokesperson for the Fort Mill school district.

DHEC continues to urge individuals to get a flu vaccine. The vaccine takes about two weeks to build up the body’s defenses against the virus.

Symptoms of the flu can include a sudden onset of fever, dry cough, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, sore throat and nasal congestion or stuffiness, according to DHEC.

A total of 518 flu-associated hospitalizations were reported by 49 hospitals in South Carolina this season, with in the past week.

Piedmont Medical Center is recommending that people with any flu-like symptoms not visit patients in the hospital, said Daisy Burroughs, spokesperson for Piedmont. Children under the age of 12 should also stay away from the hospital. People should also avoid visiting any patient who is experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082