The number of South Carolinians who have died from the flu continues to climb.
Between Jan. 14 and Jan. 20, 22 flu-related deaths were reported in South Carolina, though five of them had gone unreported from previous weeks, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
That means that 17 people died last week alone, eight more than in the previous week; 9 flu-related deaths were reported between Jan. 7 and Jan. 13, according to DHEC.
A total of 46 people have died from the flu since the season started, which is nearly double than the number of deaths – 24 – reported last week.
Daniel Jernigan, director of the influenza division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the 2017-18 flu season started early and probably is peaking, though he cautioned that “we have a lot more flu to go.” Other strains of the influenza virus, such as type B, may arise, he said.
As bad as this flu season may be, however, Jernigan said it was still too early to tell how severe the impact will be.
It’s been so bad that Palmetto Health hospitals joined other hospitals across the country in restricting visitors in an effort to curb the spread of the flu.
The Palm Beach Post reported that high humidity can deter the spread of the flu, because “water in the air encapsulates airborne viruses, making them heavy, and causing them to fall to the ground more quickly.”
DHEC continues to urge individuals to get a flu vaccine to help curb the influenza virus. The vaccine takes about two weeks to build up the body’s defenses against the virus.
Symptoms of the flu can include a sudden onset of fever, dry cough, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, sore throat and nasal congestion or stuffiness, according to DHEC.
Staff writer Daniel Chang of The Miami Herald contributed to this story.
Cynthia Roldán: @CynthiaRoldan
Influenza by the numbers
▪ 46 Deaths statewide during the flu season so far
▪ 13 Deaths of the 46 in the Midlands
▪ 16 Deaths of the 46 in the Upstate
▪ 10 Deaths of the 46 in the Lowcountry
▪ 7 Deaths of the 46 in the Pee Dee
▪ 11 Deaths statewide reported during the same time in 2017
▪ 10 Deaths statewide reported during the same time in 2016
▪ 40,940 Influenza cases reported in S.C. this season