CDC: 'Bad flu season' Ahead

Early onset of virus hits USC, state hard


By Monique Williams

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) -- It's shaping up to be a 'bad flu season,' according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as the Influenza virus makes its mark on the campus of USC and in the state earlier than anticipated.

The doors at the Thompson Student Health Center on the campus of the University of South Carolina are revolving.

"Last year in October, November and December, there were no flu cases," USC Student Health Services spokesperson Nicole Carrico. "In the beginning of December, we've already seen 25 cases positive for flu in our health center."

Early onset of Type A Influenza has hit the school hard. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), what's happening on campus is happening nationwide. Flu activity is up significantly across the south and southeast. One person in the state has already died due to the virus.

"Flu virus can live for two days outside the body, and if you think of all the surfaces we're touching, that's a lot of germs," said Carrico.

The number one thing to do is get vaccinated with a flu shot, say health officials. After an immunization, your second best line of defense is to prevent the spread of germs. Using hand sanitizer is a good idea, but health officials say nothing replaces good old fashioned soap and water.

"When you get under your nails and fingers, it does a better job," said Mary Anne Young, RN. Use antimicrobial soap with that, and then rinse all that down the sink; it's a much better procedure to go through."

Widespread cases of the virus have been reported across South Carolina, with the peak of flu season still three months away. Health officials say there is still time to get a flu shot, but people should hurry because it takes two weeks for the body to build to full immunity.

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