COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – Tuesday, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), doctors, and pediatricians took time to increase public awareness about the risks of flu, RSV and COVID-19.
State health officials say South Carolina is already experiencing an active flu season. According to State Epidemiologist Dr. Bell, during the first week of the flu season, South Carolina reported widespread flu activity.
She said, “It’s critical that everyone who is eligible get their flu shot now to protect themselves and others. That is especially important for older residents, people with chronic health conditions and very young children.”
RSV, also known as Respiratory Syncytial Virus, is typically seen in children but this year health officials say they are seeing an increase in adults getting RSV as well.
According to pediatricians, some children at the state’s children’s hospitals are testing positive for RSV and the flu. Officials from some of the hospitals have been at or near capacity for weeks.
Dr. Allison Eckard with Medical University of South Carolina said, “MUSC is treating an influx of RSV, influenza, and other viral illnesses much earlier in the season and at higher volumes than we typically see each year over the same timeframe. The number of hospitalized and critically ill patients we’ve seen in such a short period of time is unprecedented.”
The number of RSV outbreaks reported in 2022 are double compared to last year State Epidemiologist Dr. Bell said.
COVID-19 cases have declined in South Carolina. Dr. Bell says all counties are reporting low activity at this time.
DHEC officials say when there is widespread activity of respiratory illnesses circulating in communities as is currently occurring, it is possible to get sick with one or more of thee illnesses. Most people who get sick have mild cases and recover in one to two weeks.
That is not the case for everyone. Officials say people most at risk for severe illness and complications from these respiratory illnesses are infants, young children, older adults, those with chronic medical conditions and those who may be pregnant.
According to officials, you can take these steps daily to reduce the impacts of respiratory illnesses on yourself, your loved ones and the state’s hospitals, which are seeing a dramatic rise in the number of patients:
- Wash your hands often
- Cover your cough or sneeze
- Wear a mask if you are most at risk
- Stay home and away from others when sick
- Get vaccinated for flu and COVID-19
Officials say vaccinations reduce your risk of getting sick and possibly being hospitalized or dying from flu or COVID-19 or having long-term complications. To learn more, visit scdhec.gov or cdc.gov.
On Monday, DHEC reported the first pediatric flu-related death of the season.
You can watch Tuesday’s full briefing below: