The flu season isn’t turning out to be as bad as health officials feared a couple weeks ago, but the Charleston area remains the hot spot for sickness.

Avoiding the flu

Health-care experts say flu vaccines are the best prevention. A healthy diet, lots of water and plenty of sleep also can help keep you healthy.

Other recommendations:

Avoid sick people.

Stay home from work when you are sick.

Cover mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.

Wash your hands well and frequently.

Try not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth.

Source: DHEC

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control released its latest report Wednesday. The report covers Nov. 10-16.

Flu on the rise

Here are the number of flu cases reported for the weeks ending Nov. 2, 9 and 16

Area Nov. 2 Nov. 9 Nov. 16

Berkeley County 7 8 41

Charleston County 64 98 25

Dorchester County 21 47 48

Source: DHEC

Positive rapid-antigen tests indicated 401 cases of the flu across the state during that week, compared with 655 cases for the same week last year.

This is a reversal from the potentially bad news of the two previous weeks. For the week ending Nov. 2, health-care providers reported 177 positive results from flu tests, up from 90 cases during the same week a year earlier.

The trend continued upward for the week ending Nov. 9, with 291 cases confirmed, a significant increase from 54 for the same week a year earlier.

DHEC officials at the time said they hoped this didn’t indicate a dismal flu season and urged everyone to get a flu shot.

There’s no way to say whether this week’s cases aren’t as bad as feared because more people are getting flu shots, according to DHEC spokesman Jim Beasley. The agency doesn’t keep data on how many people get flu shots because most are given by private providers.

“The only thing we can ever predict about the flu is that it’s unpredictable,” Beasley said. “It still comes down to prevention, and the best way to prevent the flu is to get a shot.”

The Charleston area remains the place with the best chance to catch the flu. Of the 401 cases reported across the state this week, 214 were in the Charleston area — 125 in Charleston County, 48 in Dorchester County and 41 in Berkeley County.

The local numbers have been increasing each week as the flu season progresses.

More people with the flu are also ending up hospitalized. The latest report included 39 people across the state who were hospitalized with the flu. That’s up from 12 people the week before.

The latest report also includes the season’s second flu death, following a death the previous week. Both people who died were between 50 and 64 years old, according to the report.

Officials said the first fatality was a woman in Dorchester County but gave no other details. It’s not clear where the second person died.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.