South Carolina reports first flu-associated death

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced on Thursday the first flu-associated death in the state of the 2013-2014 flu season.

"Tragically, a woman from Dorchester County has become our first lab-confirmed, influenza-associated death of the season," State Epidemiologist Linda Bell said. "We are in the early stages of our state's flu season. It is important to get vaccinated now. The vaccine takes about two weeks to build up your body's protection against the virus, and vaccination is - by far - the best way to prevent the spread of the flu.

Bell recommended all persons in South Carolina six months old and older get vaccinated now to protect against the influenza virus, which is active early this season.

"Our most recent efforts to track the spread of influenza in the state show that influenza has been active early in the season, although activity is localized," Bell said. "Flu activity typically peaks in February in South Carolina, so we have to prepare for several months of the disease circulating in our communities. Therefore, we strongly encourage vaccination for all persons six months and older to prevent the flu and its potentially serious consequences."

The flu is a respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus that can be deadly in severe cases. North Carolina state health officials recommend people take precautions against infection, which include keeping distance from a person with known or suspected infection, staying away from others if infected, covering the mouth and nose during a cough or sneeze, washing hands regularly and thoroughly and refraining from touching orifices, as this can spread infection throughout the body.

"Other good habits include getting plenty of exercise and sleep, managing your stress, drinking water and eating good food to help you stay healthy in the winter and all year," Bell said.