COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - After seeing a significant drop in flu cases after the holidays, officials with the Department of Health and Environmental Control report there's been a slight comeback in the illness over the last six weeks.
DHEC officials say while the worst of the flu season is behind us, they have seen a rise in one particular strain of the flu. Influenza B seems to be making its rounds in the Midlands and across the state.
Health officials say it was Influenza A that caused the majority of illnesses during the winter months.
DHEC says there's no explanation for the change in the activity, but that it is still very important to take precautions, like hand-washing, to protect yourself.
Since the start of the flu season on September 30th, 2012, there have been 52,359 positive rapid flu tests reported in the state, more than 1500 hospitalizations and 42 deaths. From March 17- March 23rd there were 2,151 positive flu tests reported. Of those, 325 were Influenza A, while 1,744 were Influenza B. (62 were Influenza A/B and 20 were unknown.)
"There's really no way to predict how long the flu season will last," said Jim Beasley, a DHEC spokesman. "There's no definitive beginning and there's no definitive end, so if you have access to an Influenza vaccine and have not gotten it yet, by all means, it's still the best way to prevent the flu."
Beasley says both strains of the virus (Influenza A & B) were included in this year's flu vaccine. He adds the vaccine is not always 100 percent effective for each person.
DHEC officials say we generally see the flu virus die off when warmer more humid weather hits the state.
While health officials say they cannot make a direct connection between the recent rise in flu illnesses and the weather, the WIS Weather Team has reported cooler than usual temperatures over the past few weeks.
Health officials say if you're not feeling well and your symptoms include high fever, muscle aches, fatigue, cough and/or a headache, you should see a doctor immediately and avoid being around others.