South Carolina has seen its first child flu death this flu season, according to a press release from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
"We extend our condolences to this family and all families in South Carolina who have suffered lost during this flu season," said Dr. Lilian Peake, DHEC's Director of Public Health in the release.
The death occurred in the midlands region of the state, the release said. Information on the age and gender of the child was not immediately available.
The state, along with the rest of the country, is enduring a difficult flu season according to the release, and DHEC stressed on the occurrence of this pediatric death how important it is to get vaccinated against the flu if you haven’t already.
"I cannot stress enough the importance of getting the flu vaccine, exercising good hand hygiene, and staying home when sick," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell in the release.
South Carolina has started waiving fees for flu shots in public health clinics, the release said, and many pharmacies, community organizations and health care providers also provide vaccinations for little or no cost.
The flu can be especially deadly to people with chronic health conditions, as well as the elderly and the very young. Vaccinations are the best protection against the illness, the release said, and it takes about two weeks for administered vaccines to become effective.
Symptoms of the virus include sudden fever, dry cough, headaches and muscle aches, exhaustion, sore throat and nasal congestion, DHEC said.
For more information about the flu, visit scdhec.gov/flu.
Ways to avoid the flu in addition to a flu shot
▪ Avoid people who are sick.
▪ Stay home from work, school and errands if you are sick. By doing so, you will help keep others from getting sick, too.
▪ Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue if one is handy. Throw it away immediately after use.
▪ Wash your hands often and thoroughly.
▪ Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when someone touches something that is covered with germs and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.