Doctors see “big jump” in South Carolina flu cases

Pee Dee

FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — Local hospital officials are concerned as seasonal flu cases rise.

For the first time this flu season, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said flu activity in the state is widespread.

Last week, DHEC reported 7775 new flu cases confirmed in comparison to the same week a year ago, there was one new case.

Officials say last year was a light year for the flu, but in the same week two weeks ago there was 70 cases. According to DHEC officials, so far for the season two people in the state died from the flu.

“We’ve seen since that first week in September a sporadic case or two and then when we reached December for the first and second week, we saw a little increase the first week and a big jump in the second week of December,” Michelle W. King, McLeod Director of  Infection Prevention, said.

The jump went from one case to now 20 confirmed cases. King said staff is monitoring it and working to make sure it has the staff if this gets worse.

Palmetto Primary Care Doctor Stephen Askins, M.D. said the harsh reality is the trends are backing up these numbers.

“We gave out more flu shots then we’ve ever given last year about 10% more than we’ve given in years past and we’re using preventative measures like never before,” Askins said. “This year with COVID vaccinations, with COVID fatigue people are sick, of wearing masks, people are sick of distancing, they’re ready to get together with their families.”

King is worried that with this increase of flu cases, hospitalization will increase on top of COVID-19 patient occupancy.

“We of course like everybody else we also have staffing shortages and because of supply chain issues we are now having supply issues,” King said. “We hope that this doesn’t get worse, hoping for the best, but trying to prepare for the worse.”

King said McLeod is hiring for more staff to help with this issue. For more information visit https://www.mcleodhealth.org/.

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