Three more people died in the Lowcountry last week after being diagnosed with the flu, raising the region’s death toll to 17 this flu season, according to state health records.
Flu deaths and cases continued to rise during the state’s eighth week of widespread flu activity.
At least 106 individuals have died across the state because of flu complications this season, according to the most recent data from the Department of Health and Environmental Control.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 16 children across the nation died after being diagnosed with the flu during the last week of January, raising the total to 53 children who have died this flu season.
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No children in South Carolina have died so far this season, according to DHEC data.
Still, local and national health officials say individuals are not out of the woods yet.
“We have not hit our peak yet, unfortunately,” CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said at a recent weekly briefing. “Really, the bottom line is, there is still likely many more weeks to go.”
In the past week, the number of confirmed flu cases in Beaufort County rose by about 17 percent.
Hilton Head Hospital reported one flu death of an older adult on Jan. 22. There have been no flu-related deaths at Beaufort Memorial and Coastal Carolina hospitals so far this season.
Adults experiencing flu-like symptoms — runny nose, sore throat and fever — are encouraged not to visit patients at Beaufort Memorial Hospital and to limit visits to one per patient. Individuals younger than 18 are restricted from entering the hospital as visitors.
Beaufort Memorial also launched a new service last month for online video visits, so that patients with the flu could seek help from a doctor without going in for an office visit.
Hilton Head Hospital is recommending that children younger than 12 do not visit.
Beaufort County schools are experiencing the effects of the virus in classrooms.
As of Feb. 8, at least 485 cases of the flu had been confirmed within Beaufort County School District since schools reopened after winter break on Jan. 8. The number of confirmed cases in the school district so far this season is already nine times higher than cases confirmed during the full season last year.
Over the past 22 school days, a daily average of 460 students in Beaufort County School District have been marked absent with a doctor’s excuse or a parent’s note for flu or other ailments.
For more information about this year’s Lowcountry flu season and what you need to know about it, click here.