Lexington, SC (WLTX) - This may be the worst flu season in South Carolina in eight years, according to doctors with Lexington Medical Center.
The hospital said Tuesday that in the first week of this year, they've had 300 cases of the flu. That compares to 550 cases in December, and just 80 in the month of November.
The most recent flu activity report from DHEC, which was done at the end of last month, showed that the flu was 'widespread' in the state. That same survey found that Richland County had the highest number of cases in the Midlands over a one week period.
“The flu is a very serious illness,” said Dr. Daniel Avosso, the medical director of the Emergency department at Lexington Medical Center. “It causes hospitalization and death. And its symptoms last longer than other illnesses.”
He says this year's flu vaccine may not be as effective as doctors had hoped. However, he says people should still get the shot.
“Each year, we have to predict what vaccine to make. Some years, we get it right. Others, we don’t,” he said. The accuracy of the vaccine determines the severity of the flu season.”
He adds that even if the vaccine can't stop the virus, it could lessen a person's symptoms.
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The flu season typically peaks at the beginning of the year because more people are indoors and in close contact with one another, allowing the virus to spread.
The people who are most at risk are the elderly, children, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and asthma.
Doctors say staying hydrated, getting rest, and taking some over-the-counter medication are the best ways to treat the virus. Tamiflu, which can be had with a prescription, may also help lessen symptoms.
For more information on the flu, visit the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control's Flu Page