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Flu activity no longer widespread in South Carolina after difficult season that has killed 201

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A flu test kit is used to diagnose a patient at Roper St. Francis Express Care on James Island on Thursday, January 18, 2018. Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

Flu activity in South Carolina is considered to be regional, not widespread, for the first time since the flu began sweeping the state in the beginning of the year, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Wednesday. 

Though influenza has been on the decline for a few weeks after a difficult season, the first week of March saw only 2,192 confirmed cases.

There were almost three times that amount the week before, with 6,332 cases.

No children died of the flu in the first week of March. Two deaths had been reported before. DHEC does not identify children who have died of the flu.

Seventy people were hospitalized in the state because of the flu last week. There were 34 deaths, but 26 happened in weeks prior and are only now being reported by the state health agency. In all, 201 South Carolinians have died of the flu this season.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's reports lag behind South Carolina's by about a week. Its most recent weekly report showed flu activity was waning in some states, though it remained widespread in most.

Seventeen children nationwide died of the flu between Feb. 18 and Feb. 24, the CDC's most recent report shows. In all, 114 children have died across the country during the entire season, which usually ends in May.

The proportion of influenza B cases is increasing compared to influenza A, according to the CDC.

Influenza A was a greater issue in the beginning of the season. DHEC confirmed in late January the season was "severe," but not too surprising given the strain that was circulating.

Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-937-5594. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.

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