Several measures indicate the number of swine flu cases in South Carolina is decreasing, but the most recent week reported was among the deadliest for the H1N1 virus outbreak.
Officially, the level of swine flu in the state dropped from widespread to regional during the week that ended Nov. 14, as reported Thursday by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. That is based on reports of influenza-like illnesses from 23 health care providers statewide.
While the swine flu level remains widespread in most of the country, six states in addition to South Carolina have dropped down to the regional outbreak category.
The number of flu-related hospitalizations in South Carolina dropped from 78 for the week ending Nov. 7 to 56 for the week ending Nov. 14. That's the lowest weekly total since mid-September.
But the H1N1 virus contributed to six deaths in the state in the most recent week, matching the weekly high for the seven months the virus has been spreading in South Carolina.
Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said Friday decreases in hospitalizations and deaths often lag several weeks behind drops in reported influenza illnesses. It's still impossible to say whether the current wave of swine flu has peaked, and health experts expect another peak or two as the weather turns colder, she said.