The flu has claimed seven lives in South Carolina so far this season, one in the week ending Nov. 28, state health officials say.
In addition, there have been 123 hospitalizations for flu since Oct. 4, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control reported this week. Eighteen occurred in the week ending Nov. 28.
During the 2014-15 flu season, there were 3,365 hospitalizations and 156 deaths from flu, including three children, DHEC reports.
Flu season typically runs from October to March, peaking in February.
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Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache, extreme fatigue, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches. Children may also have nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Between 3,000 and 49,000 people die from flu each year, depending on the severity of the season, CDC reports.
The very young, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions are most at risk.
Most of those hospitalized so far this season have been 65 and older, according to DHEC, and six of the seven deaths have been among people in that age group as well.
The first flu deaths this season were reported in October, according to DHEC. The deaths have occurred all around the state.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nationally, flu activity is low with some early outbreaks in institutions like nursing homes.
A total of 39 states, including South Carolina, reported sporadic flu activity, while five states reported local activity and six reported no flu at all, according to CDC.
Most flu circulating so far is influenza A, which is included in this year’s vaccine.
CDC recommends flu shots for everyone 6 months and older. More than 140 million doses have been distributed so far.
Along with getting a vaccination, DHEC advises avoiding people who are sick, washing your hands often and thoroughly, and not toughing your eyes, nose or mouth to keep from getting sick.
Those who do get the flu are advised to stay home from school, work and errands and covering coughs and sneezes to limit spread of the disease.
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