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Note to reporters and editors: DHEC will not release certain health information concerning individuals including, but not limited to, county of residence and age due to federal, state and agency data confidentiality requirements.
This press release has been reissued to correct a mistake in Dr. Peake's quote.
COLUMBIA - A child from the Midlands Region of South Carolina died from complications associated with influenza infection. This is the first pediatric death reported to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) this flu season. The death occurred in DHEC's Midlands Health Region.
"We extend our condolences to this family and all families in South Carolina who have suffered loss during this flu season," said Dr. Lilian Peake, DHEC's Director of Public Health.
"This flu season is turning out to be particularly challenging. Along with the rest of the country, South Carolina is dealing with widespread flu activity," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell. "We want all South Carolinians to understand how serious this illness is and how important it is for everyone to take precautions."
DHEC continues to encourage South Carolinians to get a flu shot. The agency recently began waiving administrative fees that some pay for a flu shot at its public health clinics. In any case, cost will not be a barrier to flu vaccines offered in DHEC clinics. In addition, many health care providers, pharmacies and community organizations offer low- or no-cost flu shots, and most insurance plans cover at least part of the cost.
"I cannot stress enough the importance of getting the flu vaccine, exercising good hand hygiene, and staying home when sick," Bell said.
The best protection against the illness is the flu shot. Anyone six months of age or older should get the shot if they haven't already had one this season. It takes about two weeks for the body to build up protection after getting the flu vaccine, so the sooner you get the vaccine, the better.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. It can cause mild to severe illness and can be deadly - especially to vulnerable people, including the very young, the elderly and those with certain chronic health conditions. Symptoms can include a sudden onset of fever, dry cough, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, sore throat, and nasal congestion or stuffiness.
In addition to receiving a flu shot, South Carolinians are encouraged to take the following preventive measures:
More information about the flu is available at http://www.scdhec.gov/flu.
DHEC Media Relations