S.C. flu cases down; death toll at 41

Thu Jan 14, 2010-Lugoff, South Carolina-Students and parents participate in a free H1N1 flu vaccination clinic at Lugoff-Elgin Middle School. Photo by Tracy Glantz/ The State/ tglantz@thestate.com

Cases of the flu in South Carolina were slightly down during the week ending Jan. 18, according to the new flu report published by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Even so, residents are still dying from flu-related complications.

During the most recent reporting week, 2,859 positive rapid antigen tests were reported to the state health department, compared with nearly 3,200 the week before. Most of those cases were Influenza A, also known as H1N1. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say flu activity is widespread across the country.

Even though overall flu activity is decreasing in South Carolina, 11 people in the state died during the most recent reporting week, compared with eight flu-related deaths the previous week. DHEC reports 41 South Carolinians have died from the flu since late September.

A Medical University Hospital spokeswoman confirmed an additional death this week. A 34-year-old patient died Tuesday from H1N1 complications at MUSC, she said.

Health experts say H1N1 can hit healthy, younger and middle-aged adults harder than some other flu strains.

DHEC repeatedly has urged residents who have not yet been vaccinated for the flu to do so.

Flu season is expected to linger in South Carolina through spring.