An older adult died from the flu at Hilton Head Hospital within the last week, a spokesperson for the hospital confirmed on Monday.
As of Jan. 13 — the latest information available from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control — there have been 24 influenza-associated deaths and 1,292 hospitalizations across the state during this flu season.
And those numbers are rising quickly.
Compared to the previous week, the number of hospitalizations related to the flu in South Carolina increased by 80 percent.
Hilton Head Hospital has treated 74 patients with the flu so far this year, which is more than double the number of patients during the same time last year.
The hospital is recommending that any children under 12 years old does not visit.
Beaufort Memorial Hospital, which has also been swamped with flu patients, enacted visitation restrictions for individuals younger than 18 earlier this month. The hospital also launched a new service for online video visits, so that patients with the flu could seek help from a doctor without going in for an office visit.
The state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control has classified the flu as “widespread” across the state.
A total of 9,864 influenza cases were reported in 43 counties in the week before Jan. 13. That’s a 132 percent increase over the previous week.
Of the total flu cases reported in one week, 228 were in Beaufort County and none in Jasper County.
In the whole season, South Carolina has seen 26,359 influenza cases.
Flu season typically peaks sometime between December and February, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That means it’s not too late to get a flu shot.
“We’re at the peak right now, but we have many more weeks to go,” said Rob Clodfelter, medical director of the emergency room at Hilton Head Hospital “The CDC still recommends getting one (a flu shot), even this late in the game.”
This year’s strain of influenza is targeting very old and very young individuals, whose lunges are likely to respond more severely to the flu, according to Clodfelter.
Those who get a flu shot are less likely to help spread the virus and usually get a less severe reaction to the flu if they come down with it, he said.
Georgia’s Department of Public Health has recorded 12 flu-related deaths as of Jan. 19.
In North Carolina, 42 people have died of the flu, officials there reported.
Symptoms of the flu
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms that usually start suddenly, not gradually:
▪ Fever or feeling feverish/chills
▪ Sore throat
▪ Runny or stuffy nose
▪ Muscle or body aches
▪ Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in young children than in adults.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention