Officials say RSV cases at bay but flu still on the rise

Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 7:24 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - While cases of COVID are still being reported -- RSV and flu cases have soared throughout the US this year in comparison to this time last year. Two local schools turned to online learning following a reported increased level of illnesses in the bodies of students.

Officials from Northside Christian Academy notified parents last week that they would be closing their doors until Friday, Nov 4. A statement released by the school said --- “as many of you are aware, we have a high percentage of students that have experienced illnesses in the past few days.”

Gray Collegiate Academy also switched to online learning. Officials there said, “As of Monday, October 31, 2022, Gray Collegiate Academy has a very high number of students that have confirmed cases of the flu and other illnesses.”

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has been monitoring the number of flu cases in the state. A consultant with the agency tells me 8 thousand flu cases were reported at the start of the flu season this year. Around flu season time last year, there were only 50 reported cases.

The latest numbers from DHEC show that 251 people were hospitalized with the flu during the week of Oct. 23 through the 29. This brought the total number of influenzas-associated hospitalizations during this flu season to 426… 60 of those hospitalizations came from children.

“Last year in October at this time, we only had about 10 people that were hospitalized. We’ve also had five deaths from the flu this year,” said Dr. Knoche.

One of those deaths was a child. DHEC is not releasing the age of the child to maintain privacy rights.

Dr. Jonathan Knoche tells WIS that children and older adults are the most vulnerable populations when it comes to severe symptoms of the flu. Data from DHEC shows that the highest numbers of hospitalizations are coming from people 65 and older with 111 hospitalizations in just one week.

Dr. Knoche says, “It’s just been a very active flu season. We’re seeing numbers that we would see in January and February.”

“You have to live your life. I’m not going to stay inside. I don’t know if anyone else would stay inside, obviously. It’s just preventative.”

And when it comes to RSV, DHEC does not follow those cases unless there’s a cluster but numbers from the CDC do show an increase in cases from September to now, but the data also shows that while the percentage of positive tests is up the number of people testing are down.

The number of RSV cases that we’re seeing in South Carolina is usually what we’d see in December or January, and it looks like the most recent trends just started to decline. So, we’re definitely at a high tide and it’s just starting to go up, but the numbers are still quite high,” said Dr. Knoche.

Dr. Knoche also said there were 160 flu outbreaks at schools at the start of flu season and at this time last year there were none. He’s urging parents to vaccinate their children for the flu and while he says that doesn’t mean they won’t get the flu--- he says it does offset severe symptoms of the flu.

Some other preventative tips include eating healthy, getting rest, and staying home if you are sick. Dr. Knoche is also urging anyone who plans on doing any holiday travel to get vaccinated before their trips.

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