DHEC Flu Experts Speaks On Flu Season

"It Was A Very Severe Season"

South Carolina Radio Network
May 15, 2018 - 4:18 pm
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Although the final influenza season numbers won’t be counted until late summer, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) said the current season has seen 265 deaths from complications since October. Three of those victims were children age 4 and younger.

“People were sicker,” Immunization and Medical Consultant Dr. Teresa Foo said. “We saw a lot of flu illness this year.”

DHEC reports at least 4,441 people were sick enough from the flu to require hospitalization.

“It was a severe season,” Foo said. “We saw higher numbers of hospitalizations. Higher number of deaths. Higher number of cases than we’ve seen in the previous few seasons.”

The most common strain of the flu in South Carolina was also one of the more aggressive strains: AH3N2.

“That strain tends to be more severe,” she explained. “So it causes more severe illness, more complications. That was the predominant strain. Even though the vaccine did protect against that, our vaccines are not as good against that strain.”

However Dr. Foo said flu vaccinations are still the most effective method of preventing the illness and lowers the risk of complications and hospitalization for those who do get infected anyway.

Although DHEC gets reports of the flu year-round, its peak season runs from October through April. December was the peak month for flu reports, with 52 deaths occurring by month’s end.

“The important thing I think that we learned from this flu season, and that hopefully the public learns as well, is that the flu can be very deadly and it can really cause severe illness,” Food said. “And the best protection against the flu is the flu vaccination.”

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