Increase in flu activity comes early compared to last season

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By MIKE MCCOMBS

Flu activity has increased sharply over the Christmas holidays, already forcing Beaufort Memorial to impose visitor restrictions for the immediate future. The increase in activity came early compared to last year.

The Centers For Disease Control has reported elevated flu activity this season, as well, with widespread activity in South Carolina.

“There was not a sharp increase in positive flu activity until February last flu season, but this flu season we saw a sharp increase at the end of last week,” Beaufort Memorial Hospital Infection Preventionist Sherri Rabon, RN, said Monday morning. “There have been more Type B cases this season compared to activity in the past. About half of the positive cases we have had this year have been children.”

According to Rabon, the hospital saw 75 positive flu cases last week. BMH’s threshold before setting visitation restrictions is 50 positive flu cases in a week and that happened over the weekend, alone.

While visitation restrictions will help protect vulnerable patients already at Beaufort Memorial, the flu shot is still an option for everyone else, if they haven’t already gotten one this season.

“Flu season lasts through March so it is not too late to receive the flu vaccination,” Rabon said. “The CDC recommends vaccination as the best preventative method to prevent the flu and potentially serious complications from the flu. The vaccine is recommended for those 6 months of age and older each flu season.”

Those with possible flu could experience difficulty breathing, chest pressure or abdominal pain, seizures, confusion or dizziness, unrelieved cough or fever and are recommended to seek medical attention.