South Carolina Listed Among Worst States in the US for Respiratory Viruses – MUSC Reports
South Carolina is currently among the worst two states in the U.S. for respiratory virus cases, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The state shares this unfortunate distinction with Louisiana. Health care providers from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston have noted the increase, aligning it with their tracking of respiratory illnesses across the state.
Health Burden Dominated by RSV, COVID-19, and Flu Viruses
According to consolidated numbers from MUSC Health hospitals, the primary culprits driving the high rates of respiratory illnesses in South Carolina are the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), COVID-19, and the flu. For Dr. Allison Eckard, division chief for Pediatric Infectious Diseases at MUSC, the overlapping peaks of RSV and flu, combined with the re-emergence of COVID-19, are chiefly responsible for the recent uptick in patient numbers.
Increasing Cases and Risks to the Public
“Admissions for patients with respiratory viruses are currently worse than they were last week,” explained Dr. Eckard, underlining the growing risk posed by this convergence of respiratory viruses. “We certainly have some patients who have contracted COVID-19 in addition to another respiratory virus.”
Adding to these concerns, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control recently reported a child’s death due to flu complications. As a result, the agency strongly urges those eligible for influenza, COVID-19, and RSV vaccinations to get them.
Underestimating the Flu – A Deadly Mistake
What strikes Dr. Eckard the most is society’s general underestimation of the flu’s potential severity. She cautions that people often mistakenly regard influenza as a mere cold despite being a virus capable of seriously harming, and sometimes even causing the death of, children—especially those aged two years and under—or, indeed, any child under five, regardless of pre-existing medical conditions. Accordingly, she emphasised the life-saving potential of flu vaccines, which are typically recommended for people aged six months and over.
Flu symptoms include:
- Feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults) (Source: CDC)
MUSC Health Clinics Reporting Surge in Flu Symptoms Amongst Children
The number of children presenting with flu symptoms has dramatically increased at MUSC Children’s Health After Hours Care clinics in recent weeks. Warning that we are in the peak of the respiratory virus season, Dr. Eckard advises everyone to remain aware of the current covid situation and to adhere to health guidelines: wash hands regularly, avoid sick persons, and get vaccinated, as there is still time to do so.