Second local child's death confirmed to be flu-related

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According to a new report from the state Department of Public Health, emergency room visits attributed to the flu spiked 14.2 percent from January 28 and February 3, the highest single-week increase since the swine flu epidemic struck in 2009. Certainly in the case of the child that died, Influenza B was a contributing factor. The death happened in the Columbia area, but officials have not said exactly where. "Along with the rest of the country, SC is dealing with widespread flu activity", said State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell.

"This flu season is turning out to be particularly challenging".

DHEC continues to encourage South Carolinians to get a flu shot.

When asked if residents should be scared in light of the flu's potency, Downes emphasized the same common sense approaches that apply even in years when the virus is much less severe.

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The state, along with the rest of the country, is enduring a hard flu season according to the release, and DHEC stressed on the occurrence of this pediatric death how important it is to get vaccinated against the flu if you haven't already.

WDH recommends flu shots annually for almost everyone over the age of six months. Symptoms include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches. Of the 63 people who have died of flu so far, the report states, 52 were people over the age of 65. By doing so, you will help keep others from getting sick, too. "Covering your mouth and nose with your sleeve or a tissue when you sneeze and cough and frequently washing your hands are also effective", Harrist said.

"However, it takes about two weeks for flu vaccines to offer protection so if you're exposed to the virus during that period, you may still become ill", Harrist said. Throw it away immediately after use.