First South Carolinian of the season dies of the flu

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The South Carolina Dept. of Health and Environmental Control said Thursday the state has suffered its first flu-related death of the 2018 winter season.

"Sadly, an individual from the Lowcountry region has died from complications due to the flu," said Dr. Lilian Peake, DHEC director of public health. "This is our first lab-confirmed, influenza-associated death of the season. Unfortunately, we see many deaths, hospitalizations and other serious complications of flu each year in South Carolina."

Young children, pregnant women, those over age 65, and people who suffer from chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart of lung disease, are at the highest risk of suffering flu complications.

"Flu activity is unpredictable each year, so we need to prepare for several months of the virus circulating in our communities," Peake said. "The most common strains of the flu virus that circulate can change every year, so it's important to get the current flu vaccine each year for the best protection. Therefore, we strongly encourage people to get vaccinated now to prevent the flu and its potentially serious consequences. The vaccine takes about two weeks to build up your body's protection against the virus."

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that can cause mild to severe illness- and can be deadly. Symptoms include a sudden onset of fever, dry cough, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, sore throat and nasal congestion or stuffiness.

Flu vaccine is available from many local providers - including doctors' offices, clinics, pharmacies, DHEC health departments, schools and workplaces, Peake said.

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