DHEC: 23 flu deaths now reported in SC - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

DHEC: 23 flu deaths now reported in SC

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control, the flu virus has now been responsible for 23 deaths in South Carolina.

The agency released its latest weekly report Thursday, and says there seems to be a slight decline in flu activity. However, officials stress we're still in the midst of a more severe season than we've seen in recent years. 

"We're not seeing dramatic declines in disease occurrence, we're seeing slight declines," said Dr. Linda Bell, the Acting State Epidemiologist with DHEC. "But in some areas, they're continuing to see an increase, and we don't know which way the curve will go. So it is not too late to get a shot because there is still a very good chance that a large number of people who have not been vaccinated will be exposed."

Last flu season, there was one death reported in South Carolina. Before the latest weekly report, DHEC had reported 22 deaths in South Carolina related to flu.

Dr. Bell says they're currently monitoring outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. She says they have not seen a lot of major outbreaks in schools since students got back from Christmas break.

"It's possible that maybe a large number of people actually got their kids vaccinated over the Christmas break, I don't know," said Dr. Bell. "It's not necessarily our focus, but the most recent reports that we've had are in some facilities other than schools. They're still happening, but not nearly as many as we saw before the Christmas break."

Later today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will release their latest nationwide flu report. As of last week, there were 47 states experiencing widespread flu activity.

Dr. Bell says it's important to continuing taking proactive measures like getting the flu vaccine, persistent hand-washing and the use of disinfectants. 

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