Columbia, SC (WLTX) - A child in Barnwell County has become the first flu-related death of the season in South Carolina.
Officials with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control confirmed the death Wednesday.
Health experts also say there's a "significant and earlier than normal increase" in flu activity so far this year.
"Flu activity typically peaks in February, and it is very unusual for us to see this number of cases so early in the season," said Dr. Linda Bell and interim state epidemiologist. "Therefore, we strongly encourage vaccination to prevent the flu and its potentially serious consequences."
The flu is particularly dangerous to vulnerable people, including children and the elderly.
Dr. Bell gave these flu prevention tips:
• Staying away from people who are sick.
• Staying home from work, school and errands if you are sick. You will help keep others from getting sick, too.
• Covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue if one is handy. Throw it away immediately after use. Otherwise, use your upper sleeve.
• Washing your hands often and thoroughly.
• Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when someone touches something that is covered with germs and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.
People can get more information about the flu by going to DHEC's flu page. People can find a clinic by going here.