Two more flu-related deaths were reported in Beaufort and Jasper counties the week of Feb. 5, according to local healthcare officials.
One person died at Beaufort Memorial Hospital and another at Coastal Carolina Hospital. The hospitals did not disclose the age or gender of the victims. Both deaths come less than a month after an older adult died at Hilton Head Hospital on Jan. 22.
At least 128 individuals have died across South Carolina due to flu complications this season, including 21 in the Lowcountry, according to the most recent data from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
The first flu-related death of a child in South Carolina was also reported Feb. 9. The child, who died in the Midlands region, was less than 4 years old, according to DHEC.
Last week marked the state’s ninth consecutive week of widespread flu activity in which more than 18,000 influenza cases were reported across the state.
Flu season in the U.S. typically runs from October to May and peaks between December and February.
The number of patients who have tested positive or been hospitalized in Beaufort County this season has exponentially exceeded those during the 2016-17 season.
So far this season, 816 people at Beaufort Memorial have tested positive for the virus – more than three times the number confirmed at this time last year.
Hospitalizations at Beaufort Memorial have also risen sharply – from 33 at this point during the 2016-2017 season to 87 this season.
At Hilton Head Hospital, 33 individuals have been hospitalized due to the flu so far this season. Only 12 were hospitalized on Hilton Head last flu season.
Adults experiencing flu-like symptoms – runny nose, sore throat and fever – are encouraged not to visit patients at Beaufort Memorial. Those younger than 18 are restricted from entering the hospital as visitors.
Beaufort Memorial has also launched a new service for online video visits so patients can 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.
In Beaufort County School District, students continue to be diagnosed with the virus.
As of Feb. 15, at least 502 cases of the flu had been confirmed 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.