Five Midlands residents have been diagnosed with the flu already this season, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

“This confirmation reinforces the need for vaccination and the good sense steps to prevent the spread of the flu virus,” said Dr. Linda Bell, a DHEC epidemiologist, in a press release.

The department is urging residents to wash their hands, to cough into a tissue or their sleeve and to stay home from work or school at the first signs of illness.

Typical flu season runs through spring.

In March, DHEC reported more than 40,000 positive rapid tests for Influenza A and more than 8,000 positive rapid tests for Influenza B in South Carolina during the 2012-13 flu season.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.