South Carolina health officials are anticipating a potentially severe flu season, as the committee announced the first child flu-related death in South Carolina on Monday.  Health officials say it's the state's second flu-related death this season, and in mid-October, health officials confirmed the state's first flu-related death, and state health officials say the state saw widespread flu activity in the first week of flu season.  They don't usually see widespread flu activity until January, says Dr. Linda Bell, chief epidemiologist at the Center for Epidemiology Research.  In the first month of the flu season, she says, the state accounted for more than half of the total outbreaks reported last season, and she says flu and RSV cases are increasing and spreading simultaneously.  cases, but outbreaks of respiratory syncytial virus should be reported.  “This year, the number of respiratory syncytial virus outbreaks reported so far is nearly double the number of virus outbreaks reported last year, which was the worst in recent years,” Bell said.  And RSV activity is largely for kids returning to school and people returning to normal activities after the pandemic, calling it a "perfect storm."  Doctors say respiratory virus transmission over the past two years has been low due to a lot of precautions taken during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as wearing masks.  “The number of influenza and RSV outbreaks reported in schools is now very high,” Bell said.  eh the last few weeks.  A hospital spokeswoman said they have seen a lot of positive tests in emergency departments, urgent care and primary care offices, but those tests have not been translated to the hospital.  A spokeswoman for Prisma Hospital said it is a 14-bed treatment and discharge unit for severely debilitated patients.  Doctors say the symptoms of influenza, RSV and COVID-19 can often look the same.  “Headache and body aches. All of these things can happen in influenza and COVID and that kind of thing,” said Dr. Don Moore, of Lexington Medical Center, “in general, taste is not affected by influenza as much as it can be, especially in earlier forms of COVID. But I think you should better test to distinguish and say it's one and not the other."  At home, the COVID-19 tests will not get the flu, Bell says.  She said there are no home tests for the flu, but people can get both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.  "Viruses, and they can be all kinds of virus combinations," said Dr. Allison Eckard, of MUSC Children's Health.  Eckard says health complications depend on the child's age and underlying conditions, state health officials say children often have the same rate of hospitalizations for the flu as adults over 65, and doctors say most patients hospitalized with influenza have an underlying illness .  A condition such as asthma, diabetes, or sickle cell disease.  Doctors say a number of children's hospitals and emergency departments across the state are able to accommodate flu and RSV patients.  Matney, SCHA's chief operating officer, said the primary issue around hospital capacity is staffing.  She says more beds are likely to open if there is proper staffing, and doctors are encouraging people to get vaccinated against influenza and COVID-19.  There is no vaccine for RSV;  However, Pfizer has announced that it is testing an RSV vaccine for pregnant women.  Doctors say that babies under the age of 6 months to one year are most at risk.  Dr Anna Katherine Burch of Prisma Health, Dr Carl Chelen of McLeod Children's Hospital said RSV has been around for a while.  Watch lots of tests before approving and using the RSV vaccine.  “There have been at least two trials of conventional type vaccines in the last century that have not done really well, and there has been some increased disease with those conventional vaccines,” Chillen said. , he says you can also get an RSV more than once.
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                <strong class="dateline">Columbia, South Carolina -</strong>                                            <p>South Carolina health officials anticipate a highly likely flu season.

SCDHEC announced the first reported flu-related death of children in South Carolina on Monday. Health officials say it’s the second flu-related death in the state this season.

In mid-October, health officials confirmed the state’s first flu-related death.

State health officials say the state saw widespread flu activity in the first week of a flu season for the first time in eight years.

They usually don’t see widespread influenza activity until January, says Dr. Linda Bell, SCDHEC’s chief epidemiologist. In the first month of the flu season, she says, the state reached more than half of the total outbreaks reported last season.

She says cases of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus are increasing and spreading simultaneously.

DHEC says it does not require that individual RSV cases be reported, but that RSV outbreaks must be reported.

“This year, the number of RSV outbreaks reported to date is nearly double the number of outbreaks reported last year, which were the worst in recent years,” Bell said.

Doctors attribute the high flu and RSV activity largely to kids returning to school and people returning to normal activities after the pandemic, and they’re calling it a “perfect storm.”

Doctors say respiratory virus transmission over the past two years has been low due to a lot of precautions taken during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as wearing masks.

“The number of influenza and RSV outbreaks reported in schools is now very high,” Bell said.

In the northern part of the state, Bon Securus St. Francis says hospitalizations for the flu have been in the singles digits for the past few weeks. A hospital spokeswoman said they have seen a lot of positive tests in emergency departments, urgent care and primary care offices, but those tests have not been translated to the hospital.

Prisma Health in Greenville says DHEC has approved an alternative care site at Prisma Health Children

A Prisma spokeswoman said it is a 14-bed treatment and release unit for severely debilitated patients.

Doctors say the symptoms of influenza, RSV, and COVID-19 can often look the same.

“Headache and body aches. All of these things can happen with influenza and COVID and that kind of thing,” said Dr. Don Moore of Lexington Medical Center. “In general, taste is not affected by influenza as much as it can be, especially in pre-COVID forms. But I think you should test the best of it all to really differentiate and say it’s one and not the other.”

Bell says home COVID-19 tests will not test for the flu. She said there are no home tests for the flu, but people can get flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

“It’s very common for many of our children to test positive for multiple viruses when we’re looking for viruses, and it can be all kinds of virus combinations,” said Dr. Alison Eckard, of MUSC Children’s Health.

Eckard says health complications depend on the child’s age and underlying conditions.

State health officials say children often have the same rate of hospitalizations for the flu as adults over 65.

Doctors say most patients who are hospitalized with the flu have an underlying condition such as asthma, diabetes, or sickle cell disease.

Doctors say a number of children’s hospitals and emergency departments across the state are able to receive patients with influenza and RSV.

“Children’s hospitals are extraordinarily high capacity across the state,” said Melanie Matney, SCHA’s director of operations.

Matney said the primary issue around the hospital’s capacity is staffing. She says it is possible to open more beds if there is a suitable staff.

Doctors encourage people to get vaccinated against influenza and COVID-19. There is no vaccine for RSV; However, Pfizer has announced that it is testing an RSV vaccine for pregnant women.

Doctors say that babies under the age of 6 months to one year are most at risk.

“Having a vaccine would be great because at the moment, obviously all we have are antibodies that we can present,” said Dr Anna Katherine Burch of Prisma Health.

Dr. Carl Chillen of McLeod Children’s Hospital says RSV has been around for a while. He says there is hope for new vaccines, but would like to see a lot of testing before an RSV vaccine is approved and used.

“There have been at least two trials of conventional-type vaccines in the last century that haven’t turned out really well, and there has been some increasing disease with those conventional vaccines,” Chillen said.

Chillen says that people who get RSV when they get older often tolerate it better than children who catch it. He says you can also get an RSV more than once.

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