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South Carolina Flu Season Begins

Armen Hareyan's picture

Influenza, or "the flu," has officially arrived in South Carolina, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

"DHEC's Bureau of Laboratories has confirmed the Influenza A H1virus in three people in Beaufort County," said Jennifer Meredith, Ph.D., of DHEC's Division of Diagnostic Microbiology. "The flu cases were confirmed through DHEC's annual statewide laboratory-based Influenza Surveillance Program that includes surveillance partnerships with volunteer private practice physician offices, hospitals, colleges and nursing homes.

"Physicians may obtain collection kits by calling the laboratory at (803) 896-0819," Meredith said. "There is no charge for the service."

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"This flu season there has been more vaccine available than ever before," said Lena M. Bretous, M.D., of DHEC's Bureau of Disease Control. "It is still not too late to get a flu shot to protect yourself since the flu season might not peak until February. We recommend a flu shot for anyone who wants to reduce their risk from flu and its complications.

"Influenza is a naturally occurring viral disease that causes respiratory infections. Symptoms may include a sudden onset of fever, dry cough, headache, muscle aches and tiredness, followed sometimes by a sore throat, nasal congestion and more severe coughing. Our residents can reduce the chance of spreading flu and other viruses by covering their cough, washing their hands often and staying home if they are sick," Dr. Bretous said. "It's never too late to get a flu shot, but why wait to get the protection the vaccine offers?"

"Although the majority of our flu clinics have been held, many of DHEC's public health departments across the state will be offering additional opportunities to people who want protection from a disease that can be deadly, especially to children and people over 65 or with chronic diseases," Dr. Bretous said.

Information about who should get a flu vaccination is on the Web, and available from your doctor or any of DHEC's 46 county public health departments. DHEC is only one of many flu shot providers. Check to see if your medical practitioner is offering flu shots as well.